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Multi-taxonomic diversity patterns in a neotropical green city: a rapid biological assessment

MacGregor-Fors, Ian, Avendaño-Reyes, Sergio, Bandala, Víctor M., Chacón-Zapata, Santiago, Díaz-Toribio, Milton H., González-García, Fernando, Lorea-Hernández, Francisco, Martínez-Gómez, Juan, Montes de Oca, Enrique, Montoya, Leticia, Pineda, Eduardo, Ramírez-Restrepo, Lorena, Rivera-García, Eduardo, Utrera-Barrillas, Elsa, Escobar, Federico
Urban ecosystems 2015 v.18 no.2 pp. 633-647
Coleoptera, Formicidae, amphibians, biological assessment, birds, butterflies, ecosystems, fungi, planning, rapid methods, species diversity, surveys, tropics, urban areas, urbanization, vascular plants
The growing number of urban ecology studies has raised concern about the importance of comprehending the ecological patterns and processes of urban areas in order to manage and plan them properly. In this study, we performed a rapid descriptive ecological assessment of the biodiversity patterns in a neotropical mid-sized urban area from a multi-taxonomic approach, contrasting seven taxonomic groups (i.e., vascular plants, fungi, ants, butterflies, beetles, amphibians, birds) in areas with different degree of urbanization intensity. Results of this study show that diversity patterns differ depending on the taxonomic group; thus, it was not possible to generalize specific trends in species richness, abundance, and species composition because each taxon seems to respond differently to the process or level of urbanization. Our results also highlight the relevance of using multi-taxonomic approaches to understand the relationship between biodiversity and urban environments, and underline potential benefits and limitations of using each of the studied groups when considering rapid biodiversity assessments. Based on our results, we suggest the following recommendations when performing rapid biological assessments in urban areas: evaluate as many taxa as possible, choosing the set of taxonomic groups in relation to the objectives of the study, wide the temporal and spatial survey window as much as possible, focus on several biodiversity measures, and interpreting results cautiously, as rapid assessments do not necessarily reflect ecological patterns, but just part of the history.