Catherine E. de Rivera

Date of Award

Spring 5-26-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Science and Management


Environmental Science and Management

Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 92 pages)


Green roofs (Gardening), Beetles -- Ecology, Beetles -- Effect of habitat modification on, Invertebrates -- Effect of habitat modification on, Biodiversity




With over half the world's population now living in cities, urban areas represent one of earth's few ecosystems that are increasing in extent, and are sites of altered biogeochemical cycles, habitat fragmentation, and changes in biodiversity. However, urban green spaces, including green roofs, can also provide important pools of biodiversity and contribute to regional gamma diversity, while novel species assemblages can enhance some ecosystem services. Green roofs may also mitigate species loss in urban areas and have been shown to support a surprising diversity of invertebrates, including rare and endangered species. In the first part of this study I reviewed the literature on urban invertebrate communities and diversity to better understand the role of green roofs in providing habitat in the context of the larger urban mosaic. My review concluded that, while other factors such as surrounding land use and connectivity are also important to specific invertebrate taxa, local habitat variables contribute substantially to the structure and diversity of urban invertebrate communities. The importance of local habitat variables in urban green spaces and strong support for the habitat complexity hypothesis in a number of other ecosystems has led to proposals that "biodiverse" roofs--those intentionally designed with varied substrate depth, greater plant diversity, or added elements such as logs or stones--would support greater invertebrate diversity, but there is currently limited peer reviewed data to support this. In order to address the habitat complexity hypothesis in the context of green roofs, in the second part of this study I surveyed three roofs designed primarily for stormwater management, three biodiverse roofs, and five ground-level green spaces, from March until September of 2014 in the Portland metropolitan area. Beetles (Coleoptera) were sampled bi-weekly as representatives of total species diversity. Biodiverse roofs had greater richness, abundance, and diversity of beetle species compared to stormwater roofs, but were not more diverse than ground sites. Both biodiverse roofs and ground sites had approximately 20% native beetle species while stormwater roofs had only 5%. Functional diversity was also higher on biodiverse roofs with an average of seven trophic groups represented, while stormwater roofs averaged only three. Ground sites, biodiverse roofs, and stormwater roofs each grouped distinctively in terms of beetle community composition and biodiverse roof communities were found to be positively correlated with roof age, percent plant cover, average plant height, and plant species richness. These results support the findings of previous studies on the importance of local variables in structuring urban invertebrate communities and suggest that biodiverse design can reliably increase greenroof diversity, with the caution that they remain no replacement for ground level conservation.

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