Predation risk modifies habitat use and habitat selection of diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) in an Urban Pondscape

Wenfei Liao, Tommaso Zanca, Jari Niemelä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Urban freshwater ecosystems often involve the introduction of predator species that affect biodiversity via both direct and indirect effects of predation, altering the distribution of prey species. Yet, limited research has explored indirect effects on aquatic invertebrates in urban pondscapes. We use Dytiscidae as our study taxon to investigate how predator-prey interaction modifies the habitat use and habitat selection of macroinvertebrates in ponds of an urban landscape. We sampled dytiscids in 11 ponds with, and 15 ponds without fish, in Helsinki, Finland, during 2018 – 2020, and emergent plant cover in pond margins as a proxy for the quantity of prey refuges. We found (i) at the pond scale, vegetation cover can mitigate the negative effects of predators on dytiscid species richness and abundance, and dytiscids prefer microhabitats with bulrush and sedges to microhabitats with no vegetation or common reeds, reflecting the importance of providing aquatic plants with high structural complexity as prey refuges. (ii) At the landscape scale, small-sized dytiscids favour fishless habitats, and the community-weighted mean body size of dytiscids has seasonal fluctuations, with smaller body size in May and June than in July in fishless ponds, indicating that dytiscids select habitats to regulate their investment in vigilance according to their life cycles. Our findings highlight that predation can alter the habitat use and habitat selection of aquatic invertebrates. Mitigating predation risk at both the habitat scale and the landscape scale is crucial to facilitate the fitness of aquatic invertebrates, especially small-sized species, to promote their diversity in urban pondscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02801
JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1172 Environmental sciences
  • urban blue space
  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • aquatic insect
  • aquatic plant
  • tpondscape of fear
  • non-consumptive effect
  • traits

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