How peri-urban areas can strengthen animal populations within cities: a modeling approach

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We explore the extent to which inner-city fauna can be enhanced by source areas in peri-urban zones as a response to a decreasing quality and size of green habitats within cities. The objectives were to get a better understanding of the interaction between animal populations of urban and peri-urban areas, and the role of urban green structures within this relationship, and to find out the extent to which peri-urban areas can contribute to urban animal populations. We illustrate the idea of peri-urban support by using a simulation model for individual animal movement, applied in a particular case-study with butterflies as model species. Results show differences in accessibility of inner-city areas between model butterfly species that differ in mobility. The impact of peri-urban individuals on populations of inner-city habitats differed among several peri-urban source-scenarios: the enlargement of the inner-city butterfly population by peri-urban individuals was determined as 7¿36% for `moderate dispersers¿ and 19¿56% for `good dispersers¿. Results also show that well-connected habitat patches within existing urban green structures were more likely to be visited by peri-urban individuals than isolated habitat patches. We conclude that peri-urban nature areas, if large enough, can have a potentially positive influence on the presence of fauna in inner-city neighborhoods. In addition, results suggest that connectivity between inner-city and peri-urban habitat patches enhances contribution of peri-urban migrants to inner-city populations. By providing a range of different habitats, from inner-city up to peri-urban area, moderately mobile habitat specialists could better compete against the small set of successful habitat generalists that are increasing in urban environments all over the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-355
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • correlated random-walk
  • cabbage butterflies
  • insect movement
  • pieris-rapae
  • dispersal
  • conservation
  • habitat
  • landscape
  • ecology
  • metapopulation


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