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The Trade-off Between Housing Density and Sprawl Area: Minimizing Impacts to Carabid Beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae)

Sara A. Gagné, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Lenore Fahrig


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Increasing housing density has negative effects on native biodiversity. This implies that we should build at low density to conserve native species. However, for a given human population, low-density development must cover a large area, resulting in sprawl. A pertinent question is then, at what housing density are the impacts of a given human population on native biodiversity minimized? We addressed this question with carabid beetles in Ottawa and Gatineau, Canada. First, we collected beetles at 22 sites representing a range of housing densities. We then used these data to estimate beetle abundance and species richness in hypothetical development scenarios representing the housing density/sprawl area trade-off. Our results suggest that clustering development at a high housing density minimizes the impacts of a given human population on carabid beetles. If these results are general across all forest taxa, then planning that favors densification rather than sprawl would minimize urbanization effects on forest biodiversity.

Key words

development scenario; forest fragmentation; forest taxa; ground beetle; housing density; residential development; urban sprawl

Copyright © 2010 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087