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Clean and Green Urban Water Bodies Benefit Nocturnal Flying Insects and Their Predators, Insectivorous Bats

Straka, Tanja M.; Lentini, Pia E.; Lumsden, Linda F.; Buchholz, Sascha; Wintle, Brendan A.; van der Ree, Rodney

Nocturnal arthropods form the prey base for many predators and are an integral part of complex food webs. However, there is limited understanding of the mechanisms influencing invertebrates at urban water bodies and the potential flow-on effects to their predators. This study aims to: (i) understand the importance of standing water bodies for nocturnal flying insect orders, including the landscape- and local-scale factors driving these patterns; and (ii) quantify the relationship between insects and insectivorous bats. We investigated nocturnal flying insects and insectivorous bats simultaneously at water bodies (n = 58) and non-water body sites (n = 35) using light traps and acoustic recorders in Melbourne, Australia. At the landscape scale, we found that the presence of water and high levels of surrounding greenness were important predictors for some insect orders. At the water body scale, low levels of sediment pollutants, increased riparian tree cover and water body size supported higher insect order richness and a greater abundance of Coleopterans and Trichopterans, respectively. Most bat species had a positive response to a high abundance of Lepidopterans, confirming the importance of this order in the diet of insectivorous bats. Fostering communities of nocturnal insects in urban environments can provide opportunities for enhancing the prey base of urban nocturnal insectivores.
Published in: Sustainability, 10.3390/su12072634, MDPI