City dwelling wild bees: how communal gardens promote species richness

  • Julia LannerEmail author
  • Sophie Kratschmer
  • Božana Petrović
  • Felix Gaulhofer
  • Harald Meimberg
  • Bärbel Pachinger


Urban areas consist of wide expanses of impervious surfaces which are known to negatively affect insect biodiversity in general, but green spaces within cities have the potential to provide necessary habitat and foraging resources. Although, communal gardens were primarily intended to provide fresh, regional food to denizens, these green islands also host a surprisingly high number of wild bee species.

The gardens were characterized based on structural elements such as flower frequency, the relative percentage of lawn, trees, shrubs, planted crops and infrastructure (e.g. seating possibilities or garden houses). Further, the effects of different landscape structures surrounding the gardens and distance to the city center were analyzed on the total wild bee species richness and functional traits. Focusing on these putative influencing factors, statistical analyses calculating random decision forests along with generalized linear mixed models were applied. With 113 observed wild bee species, communal gardens provide habitat for a quarter of all known species in Vienna. In conclusion, results revealed that only elements within the gardens had an effect on species richness, with flower frequency as the major positive driver. The examined communal gardens promote and conserve wild bees independent from the location within the city or garden size. Furthermore, these green patches are important sanctuaries, hosting rare and threatened species as well as remarkably special wild bee communities.


Urban agriculture Pollinator Flower frequency Life history traits Apiformes 



First of all, we want to thank the gardeners for their support and interest in this project. Furthermore, we wish to thank Andreas Werner Ebmer for the confirmation of the determination of Halictus tectus, Sabine Schoder for assisting with the identification of difficult Hylaeus species, Monika Kriechbaum with the determination of certain plant species and David Horner for proof reading.

Author contribution

JL wrote the manuscript and along with BäPa conceived the original idea and identified the specimens on species level. Field work was conducted by JL and FG in the context of FG’s Bachelor thesis. SK performed the statistical computations with R. BoPe contributed the GIS results. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Integrative Nature Conservation ResearchViennaAustria

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