Urbanization negatively affects biodiversity, yet some urban habitat features can support diversity. Parasitoid wasps, an abundant and highly diverse group of arthropods, can inhabit urban areas and do well in areas with higher host abundance, floral resources, or local or landscape complexity. Parasitoids provide biological control services in many agricultural habitats, yet few studies have examined diversity and abundance of parasitoids in urban agroecosystems to understand how to promote conservation and function. We examined the local habitat and landscape drivers of parasitoid abundance, superfamily and family richness, and parasitoid composition in urban gardens in the California central coast. Local factors included garden size, ground cover type, herbaceous plant species, and number of trees and shrubs. Landscape characteristics included land cover and landscape diversity around gardens. We found that garden size, mulch cover, and urban cover within 500 m of gardens predicted increases in parasitoid abundance within gardens. The height of herbaceous vegetation and tree and shrub richness predicted increases in superfamily and family richness whereas increases in urban cover resulted in declines in parasitoid richness. Abundance of individual superfamilies and families responded to a wide array of local and landscape factors, sometimes in opposite ways. Composition of parasitoid communities responded to changes in garden size, herbaceous plant cover, and number of flowers. Thus, both local scale management and landscape planning may impact the abundance, diversity, and community composition of parasitoids in urban gardens, and may result in differences in the effectiveness of parasitoids in biological control.
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Vol. 46 • No. 2