Vegetation cover drives arthropod communities in Mediterranean/subtropical green roof habitats

Ibrahim N.A. Salman, Leon Blaustein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Worldwide, urban areas are expanding both in size and number, which results in a decline in habitats suitable for urban flora and fauna. The construction of urban green features, such as green roofs, may provide suitable habitat patches for many species in urban areas. On green roofs, two approaches have been used to select plants-i.e., matching similar habitat to green roofs (habitat template approach) or identifying plants with suitable traits (plant trait approach). While both approaches may result in suitable habitats for arthropods, how arthropods respond to different combinations of plants is an open question. The aim of this study was to investigate how the structural complexity of different plant forms can affect the abundance and richness of arthropods on green roofs. The experimental design crossed the presence and absence of annuals with three Sedum sediforme (Jacq.) Pau (common name: stonecrops) treatments-i.e., uniformly disrupted Sedum, clumped disrupted Sedum, and no Sedum. We hypothesized that an increased structural diversity due to the coexistence of different life forms of plants on roofs is positively related to the abundance and richness of arthropods. We found that arthropod abundance and richness were positively associated with the percent of vegetation cover and negatively associated with substrate temperature. Neither arthropod abundance nor richness was influenced by the relative moisture of substrate. We also found that arthropod abundance and richness varied by green roof setups (treatments) and by seasonality. Arthropod abundance on green roofs was the highest in treatments with annuals only, while species richness was slightly similar between treatments containing annuals but varied between sampling periods. This study suggests that adding annuals to traditional Sedum roofs has positive effects on arthropods. This finding can support the development of biodiverse cities because most extensive green roofs are inaccessible to the public and can provide undisturbed habitat for several plant and arthropod species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4209
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number11
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors.


  • Biodiversity
  • Green roof
  • Succulents
  • Vegetation cover

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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