Domestic gardens provide valuable ecosystem services including supporting biodiversity. These gardens typically consist of a mixture of native and non-native plants yet the relative value of these plants for invertebrates is largely unknown. To address this a replicated field experiment was established with plots planted with one of three assemblages of non-invasive perennial and shrubby garden plants (treatments), based on plant origin [British native, near-native (Northern Hemisphere) and exotic (Southern Hemisphere)]. Over 4 years soil-surface-active invertebrates were recorded by pitfall trap and canopy cover measured. The abundance of soil-surface-active invertebrates increased with canopy cover. Abundance was higher on the native treatment, but there were seasonal differences, with proportionately more invertebrates found on the exotic plots during the winter. Invertebrate herbivores, parasitoids and the Carabidae gave similar results to total abundance. Omnivores were most abundant on the near-native treatment and detritivores showed no difference between treatments. The abundance of the Araneae increased as canopy cover decreased. Analysis of diversity for groups meeting minimum data requirements indicated that abundance measures gave a good representation of diversity. The experiment demonstrated that gardens and other cultivated ornamental plantings support a wide range of soil-surface-active invertebrates regardless of the plants’ origin and the more plant matter (canopy cover) available the greater the abundance. More invertebrates will be supported by gardens and cultivated planting schemes that offer dense year-round vegetation cover combined with plantings biased towards native and near-native plants. Some areas of low vegetation cover will however, support some groups such as the Araneae.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Soil-surface-active invertebrate data is available in Online Resource 3.
Baars MA (1979) Catches in pitfall traps in relation to mean densities of carabid beetles. Oecologia 41:25–46
Baines C (2016) RHS companion to wildlife gardening. Frances Lincoln, London
Ballard M, Hough-Goldstein J, Tallamy D (2013) Arthropod communities on native and nonnative early successional plants. Environ Entomol 42:851–859
Bell JR, Wheater PC, Cullen WR (2001) The implications of grassland and heathland management for the conservation of spider communities: a review. J Zool 255:377–387
Berger WH, Parker FL (1970) Diversity of planktonic foraminifera in deep-sea sediments. Science 168:1345–1347
Brooks DR, Bohan DA, Champion GT, Haughton AJ, Hawes C, Heard MS, Clark SJ, Dewar AM, Firbank LG, Perry JN, Rothery P, Scott RJ, Woiwod IP, Birchall C, Skellern MP, Walker JH, Baker P, Bell D, Browne EL, Dewar AJD, Fairfax CM, Garner BH, Haylock LA, Horne SL, Hulmes SE, Mason NS, Norton LR, Nuttall P, Randle Z, Rossall MJ, Sands RJN, Singer EJ, Walker MJ (2003) Invertebrate responses to the management of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant and conventional spring crops. I. Soil-surface-active invertebrates. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B 358:1847–1862
Burghardt KT, Tallamy DW (2013) Plant origin asymmetrically impacts feeding guilds and life stages driving community structure of herbivorous arthropods. Divers Distrib 19:1553–1565
Cameron RWF, Blanuasa T, Taylor JE, Salisbury A, Halstead AJ, Henricot BB, Thompson K (2012) The domestic garden – Its contribution to urban green infrastructure. Urban For Urban Gree 11:129–137
Cubey J (Editor in Chief) (2018) RHS Plant Finder 2018. The Royal Horticultural Society, London
Davies ZG, Fuller RA, Loram A, Irvine KN, Sims V, Gaston KJ (2009) A national scale inventory of resource provision for biodiversity within domestic gardens. Biol Conserv 142:761–771
Davis MA, Chew MK, Hobbs RJ, Lugo AE, Ewel JJ, Vermeij GJ, Brown JH, Rosenzweig ML, Gardener MR, Carroll SP, Thompson K, Pickett STA, Stromberg JC, Del Tredici P, Suding KN, Ehrenfeld JG, Grime JP, Mascaro J, Briggs JC (2011) Don’t judge species on their origins. Nature 474:153–154
Dennis P, Young MR, Gordon IJ (1998) Distribution and abundance of small insects and arachnids in relation to structural heterogeneity of grazed, indigenous grasslands. Ecol Entomol 23:253–264
Firbank LG, Heard MS, Woiwod IP, Hawes C, Haughton AJ, Champion GT, Scott RJ, Hill MO, Dewar AM, Squire GR, May MJ, Brooks DR, Bohan DA, Daniels RE, Osborne JL, Roy DB, Black HIJ, Rothery P, Perry JN (2003) An introduction to the farm-scale evaluations of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops. J Appl Ecol 40:2–16
Gaston KJ, Warren PH, Thompson K, Smith RM (2005) Urban domestic gardens (IV): the extent of the resource and its associated features. Biodivers Conserv 14:3327–3349
Greenslade PJM (1964) Pitfall trapping as a method for studying populations of Carabidae (Coleoptera). J Anim Ecol 33:301–310
Hartley MK, Rogers WE, Siemann E (2010) Comparisons of arthropod assemblages on an invasive and native trees: abundance, diversity and damage. Arthropod-Plant Inte 4:237–245
Haughton AJ, Champion GT, Hawes C, Heard MS, Brooks DR, Bohan DA, Clark SJ, Dewar AM, Firbank LG, Osborne JL, Perry JN, Rothery P, Roy DB, Scott RJ, Woiwod IP, Birchall C, Skellern MP, Walker JH, Baker P, Browne EL, Garner BH, Haylock LA, Horne SL, Mason NS, Sands RJN, Walker MJ, Bell D, Fairfax CM, Hulmes SE, Norton LR, Nuttall P, Randle Z, Rossall MJ, Singer EJ (2003) Invertebrate responses to the management of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant and conventional spring crops. II. Within-field epigeal and aerial arthropods. Philos Trans R Soc B 358:1847–1862
Hawes C, Haughton AJ, Osborne JL, Roy DB, Clark SJ, Perry JN, Rothery P, Boha DA, Brooks DR, Champion GT, Dewar AM, Heard MS, Woiwod IP, Daniels RE, Young MW, Parish AM, Scott RJ, Firbank LG, Squire GR (2003) Responses of plants and invertebrate trophic groups to contrasting herbicide regimes in the Farm Scale Evaluations of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops. Philos Trans R Soc B 358:1899–1913
Helden AJ, Stamp GC, Leather SR (2012) Urban biodiversity: comparison of insect assemblages on native and non-native trees. Urban Ecosyst 15:611–624
Koricheva J, Mulder CPH, Schmid B, Joshi J, Huss-Danell K (2000) Numerical responses of different trophic groups of invertebrates to manipulations of plant diversity in grasslands. Oecologia 125:271–282
Litt RL, Cord EE, Fulbright TE, Schuster GL (2014) Effects of invasive plants on arthropods. Conserv Biol 28:1532–1549
Loram A, Tratalos J, Warren PH, Gaston KJ (2007) Urban domestic gardens (X): the extent structure of the resource in five major cities. Landsc Ecol 22:601–615
Loram A, Thompson K, Warren PH, Gaston KJ (2008) Urban domestic gardens (XII): the richness and composition of the flora in five UK cities. J Veg Sci 19:321–330
May RM (1975) Patterns of species abundance and diversity. In: Cody ML, Diamond JM (eds) Ecology and evolution of communities. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp 81–120
Morris EK, Caruso T, Buscot F, Fischer M, Hancock C, Maier TS, Meiners T, Muller C, Obermaier E, Prati D, Socher SA, Sonnemann I, Waschke N, Wubet T, Wurst S, Rillig MC (2014) Choosing and using diversity indices: insights for ecological applications from the German Biodiversity Exploratories. Ecol Evol 4:3514–3524
Noss RF (1990) Indicators for monitoring biodiversity: a hierarchical approach. Conserv Biol 4:355–364
Owen J (2010) Wildlife of a garden. A thirty year study. Royal Horticultural Society, London
Perry JN (1982) Fitting split-lines to ecological data. Ecol Entomol 7:421–435
Perry JN, Rothery P, Clark SJ, Heard MS, Hawes C (2003) Design, analysis and statistical power of the Farm-Scale Evaluations of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops. J Anim Ecol 40:17–31
Proches E, Wilson JRU, Richardson DM, Chown SL (2008) Herbivores, but not other insects, are scarce on alien plants. Austral Ecol 33:691–700
Pyšek P, Richardson DM, Rejmánek M, Webster GL, Williamson M, Kirschner J (2004) Alien plants in checklists and floras: towards better communication between taxonomists and ecologists. Taxon 53:131–143
Salisbury A, Armitage J, Bostock H, Perry J, Tatchell M, Thompson K (2015) Enhancing gardens as habitats for flower-visiting aerial insects (pollinators): should we plant native or exotic species? J Appl Ecol 52:1156–1164
Salisbury A, Al-Beidh S, Armitage J, Bird S, Bostock H, Platoni A, Tatchell M, Thompson K, Perry J (2017) Enhancing gardens as habitats for plant-associated invertebrates: should we plant native or exotic species? Biodivers Conserv 26:2657–2673
Sánchez-Bayo F, Wyckhuys KAG (2019) Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: a review of its drivers. Biol Conserv 232:8–27
Smith RM, Gaston KJ, Warren PH, Thompson K (2006a) Urban domestic gardens (VI): environmentalcorrelates of invertebrate species richness. Biodivers Conserv 15:2415–2438
Smith RM, Gaston KJ, Warren PH, Thompson K (2006b) Urban domestic gardens (VIII): environmental correlates of invertebrate abundance. Biodivers Conserv 15:2515–2545
Smith RM, Thompson K, Hodgson JG, Warren PH, Gaston KJ (2006c) Urban domestic gardens (IX): composition and richness of the vascular plant flora, and implications for native biodiversity. Biol Conserv 129:312–322
Stace C (2010) New flora of the British Isles, 3rd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Stace CA, Crawley MJ (2015) Alien plants (Collins New Naturalist Library, Book 129). Harper Collins, London
Tallamy DW (2004) Do alien plants reduce insect biomass? Conserv Biol 18:1689–1692
Taylor LR, Kempton RA, Woiwod IP (1976) Diversity statistics and the log-series model. J Anim Ecol 45:255–272
VSN International (2013) GenStat for windows, 16th edn. VSN International, Hemel Hempstead
Winder L, Holland JM, Perry JN, Woolley C, Alexander CJ (2001) The use of barrier-connected pitfall trapping for sampling predatory beetles and spiders. Entomol Exp Appl 98:249–258
Zuefle ME, Brown WP, Tallamy DW (2008) Effects of non-native plants on the native insect community of Delaware. Biol Invasions 10:1159–1169
We would like to thank the project volunteers James Backshall, Crystal Duncan, Carolyn Hewitt, Helen Latham, Linda Moyes, Judi O’Prey, John Ricketts, Kathy Stones and Jenna Watt who maintained the plots and the members of RHS Wisley curatorial staff who assisted. Thanks are also due to those who provided help and advice including Jonty Denton, David Brooks, Suzanne Clark, Colin Crosbie, Victoria Coupland, Jim Gardiner, Gerard Clover, Alistair Griffiths, Andrew Halstead, Alison Haughton and Steve Head (the Wildlife Gardening Forum), David Notton, Juliet Osborne, Claire Ozanne, Laura Robins, Peter Shaw, Richard Sanford, Ian Waghorn and Roger Williams.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Urban biodiversity.
Communicated by Jens Wolfgang Dauber.
About this article
Cite this article
Salisbury, A., Al-Beidh, S., Armitage, J. et al. Enhancing gardens as habitats for soil-surface-active invertebrates: should we plant native or exotic species?. Biodivers Conserv 29, 129–151 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-019-01874-w
- Canopy cover
- Functional group
- Invertebrate abundance
- Invertebrate diversity
- Invertebrate herbivore
- Invertebrate predator
- Ornamental plants