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Johan Kjellberg Jensen. Photo.

Johan Kjellberg Jensen

Doctoral student

Johan Kjellberg Jensen. Photo.

Contrasting effects of tree origin and urbanization on invertebrate abundance and tree phenology


  • Johan Kjellberg Jensen
  • Sherin Jayousi
  • Maria von Post
  • Caroline Isaksson
  • Anna S. Persson

Summary, in English

The ongoing wide-scale introduction of nonnative plants across the world may negatively influence native invertebrate fauna, due to a lack of coevolved traits related to the novel plants, e.g., unique phytochemicals or shifted phenology. Nonnative plants, specifically trees, are common in urban environments, areas that already pose novel habitats to plants and wildlife through a wide array of anthropogenic factors. For example, impervious surfaces contribute to increased ambient temperatures, the so-called urban heat island effect (UHI), which can affect local plant phenology. Yet, few studies have simultaneously studied the effects of urbanization and tree species origin on urban invertebrate communities. We measured the city-level UHI and phenology of nine native and seven nonnative tree species in five city-center parks in southern Sweden, as well as four common native species in a rural control forest. We quantified the abundance of invertebrates on a subset of native and nonnative tree species through shake sampling, sticky traps, and frass collection. In the urban environment, nonnative trees hosted significantly fewer invertebrates compared to native trees. Furthermore, the nonnative trees had a delayed phenology compared to native species, while the peak of caterpillars associated with the subset of trees surveyed for this measure was significantly earlier compared to that of the native species studied. The effect of tree species origin on urban invertebrate abundance was of a greater magnitude (effect size) than the effect of urbanization on invertebrate abundance in native tree hosts. Hence, the results indicate that the impact of nonnative vegetation may be a stronger driver of invertebrate declines in urban areas than other factors. As the effect of species origin on tree phenology was at a level comparable to the urban effect, increasing prevalence of nonnative vegetation can potentially obscure effects of urbanization on phenology in large-scale studies, as well as induce mismatches to invertebrate populations. Since parks harbor a large proportion of urban biodiversity, native trees play a crucial role in such habitats and should not be considered replaceable by nonnative species in terms of conservation value.


  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • Evolutionary ecology
  • Biodiversity and Conservation Science
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • Life History and Functional Ecology

Publishing year





Ecological Applications

Document type

Journal article


Ecological Society of America


  • Biological Sciences


  • exotic plants
  • nonnative trees
  • plant phenology
  • temperate region
  • trophic levels
  • urban green spaces
  • urban heat island



Research group

  • Biodiversity and Conservation Science
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • Life History and Functional Ecology


  • ISSN: 1051-0761