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Caterpillar survival in the city: Attack rates on model lepidopteran larvae along an urban-rural gradient show no increase in predation with increasing urban intensity (Raw Data)

Citation

Nason, Lindsay; Eason, Perri; Carreiro, Margaret (2021), Caterpillar survival in the city: Attack rates on model lepidopteran larvae along an urban-rural gradient show no increase in predation with increasing urban intensity (Raw Data), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.44j0zpccx

Abstract

Growing native plants in urban gardens is often promoted as a possible means of increasing lepidopteran populations. However, the efficacy of such efforts has not been well studied. Lepidopterans vary widely in their ability to survive in cities, and the few previous studies of caterpillar abundance or biomass across an urban-rural gradient have yielded mixed results.  We placed clay caterpillar models in native plant gardens to assess whether the attack rate on these models varied with degree of urbanization (percent impervious surface within 1 km radius of each garden), and whether responses differed across predator taxa.  We also examined how garden characteristics (plant biovolume density, plant species richness) affected probability of attack.  Overall, attack rates on these models decreased with increasing impervious surface, although predator taxa varied in their sometimes complex responses. For parasitoid wasps, which accounted for 47% of all attacks, increasing biovolume density increased attack probability at impervious surface levels below 35%, but decreased the probability of attack at higher levels of impervious surface. In contrast, probabilities of attack by both predatory wasps and vertebrates decreased with increasing percent impervious surface, but did not vary with impervious surface for ants and spiders.  Predation on caterpillars in urban gardens may be lower than in rural ones; however, this potential increase in survival may be a result of declines in some predator taxa, such as predatory wasps and insectivorous birds. More studies across an urban gradient are needed to measure factors other than predation that influence caterpillar survival in gardens.

Methods

Model caterpillars were place in the field, then collected. Marks left in the clay were then assessed to determine predator type.