Horizontal and vertical island biogeography of arthropods on green roofs: a review

Lior Blank, Amiel Vasl, Bracha Y. Schindler, Gyongyver J. Kadas, Leon Blaustein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From an ecological perspective, urban green roofs can be viewed as green islands embedded in an urban matrix. Island biogeography theory suggests that species richness on an island is the outcome of dynamic equilibrium between immigration and extinction. Immigration is affected by the size of an island and distance of an island from a colonizing source. In the context of green roofs, building height and horizontal distance from green areas can potentially be a limiting factor for many species. Here, we considered two distance components of green roofs - vertical (building height) and horizontal (distance of building from open green areas). Based on island biogeography theory, we would expect species richness or community similarity to be negatively related to horizontal or vertical distances from colonizing sources. The green roof literature addressing such questions is currently sparse. In our review comprised of 10 studies, we were unable to identify consistent statistically significant richness-distance or community similarity-distance (vertical or horizontal) relationships. The absence of statistically significant relationships could be due in large part to low statistical power as a consequence of both the paucity of roofs and limited range of vertical distances in many of the existing studies. In addition, these roofs differ in numerous aspects (e.g. roof size, age, substrate type, plant composition and building height). The low number of replicates, combined with the lack of homogeneity among replicates combines to reduce statistical power and our ability to detect differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-917
Number of pages7
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Colonization
  • Community similarity
  • Species assemblage
  • Species diversity
  • Urban ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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