Urban moth communities suggest that life in the city favours thermophilic multi-dimensional generalists

Markus Franzén, Per Eric Betzholtz, Lars B. Pettersson, Anders Forsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


Biodiversity is challenged worldwide by exploitation, global warming, changes in land use and increasing urbanization. It is hypothesized that communities in urban areas should consist primarily of generalist species with broad niches that are able to cope with novel, variable, fragmented, warmer and unpredictable environments shaped by human pressures. We surveyed moth communities in three cities in northern Europe and compared them with neighbouring moth assemblages constituting species pools of potential colonizers. We found that urban moth communities consisted of multi-dimensional generalist species that had larger distribution ranges, more variable colour patterns, longer reproductive seasons, broader diets, were more likely to overwinter as an egg, more thermophilic, and occupied more habitat types compared with moth communities in surrounding areas. When body size was analysed separately, results indicated that city occupancy was associated with larger size, but this effect disappeared when body size was analysed together with the other traits. Our findings indicate that urbanization imposes a spatial filtering process in favour of thermophilic species characterized by high intraspecific diversity and multi-dimensional generalist lifestyles over specialized species with narrow niches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20193014
Number of pages10
JournalRoyal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Issue number1928
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 10

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ecology


  • generalization
  • global change
  • moths
  • specialization
  • species traits
  • urbanization


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