Weak effect of urbanization on bdelloid rotifers living in lichens

Partemi R., Debortoli N., Martínez A., Kamburska L., Souffreau C., Matheve H., Vantieghem P., De Meester L., van Doninck K., Merckx T. & Fontaneto D.
R Soc Open Sci
11(4): 231978
Human activities have an overwhelming impact on the natural environment, leading to a deep biodiversity crisis whose effects range from genes to ecosystems. Here, we analysed the effect of such anthropogenic impacts on bdelloid rotifers (Rotifera Bdelloidea), for whom these effects are poorly understood. We targeted bdelloid rotifers living in lichen patches across urbanization gradients in Flanders and Brussels (Belgium). Urbanization was measured as the percentage of built-up area (BU) across different spatial scales, at circles from 50 to 3200 m of radius around the lichen. Urbanization effects on biodiversity were assessed on abundance, species richness and community-weighted mean body size of bdelloid rotifers, as well as on genetic diversity of a mitochondrial marker (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I) of one of the most common and widespread bdelloid species, Adineta vaga. Overall, no negative effect of urbanization was found at any diversity level and any spatial scale. Counterintuitively, the BU area quantified at the largest spatial scale had a positive effect on abundance. These results leave open the question of whether negative effects of urbanization are present for bdelloid rotifers, if they are mediated by other unexplored drivers, or if such effects are only visible at even larger spatial scales. Rotifera Bdelloidea, anthropogenic effects, biodiversity, community ecology, urban ecology
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