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Does Urbanization Promote Invasive Species?

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The world population has increased seven-fold in the past 200 years alone. This boom in global population led to a massive increase in urbanization. Along with this movement of people came the movement of non-native species into these urbanized areas, both intentional (e.g. through agriculture) and not (e.g. as invasive species). This is concerning, as invasive species could have detrimental impacts both on the environment and on our agriculture and economy. Armored scale insects are invertebrate plant pests with over 2,000 described species, many of which are invasive in the USA. Because they are found nearly everywhere on woody plants, I used these as a study organism to test if there is an association between invasive species of armored scale insects and urbanized areas. I do so by comparing the ratio of invasive to native species abundance of armored scale insects on plant hosts in these environments. I used molecular systematic techniques, including DNA sequencing, to examine the population demographics in the two differing environments. The findings I present will be the first to explicitly examine armored scale abundances across urban and non-urban landscapes while controlling for the confounding effects of different host plant communities. These findings, in turn, give us insights into the causes and consequences of urbanization for the establishment of invasive species.

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Does Urbanization Promote Invasive Species?

The world population has increased seven-fold in the past 200 years alone. This boom in global population led to a massive increase in urbanization. Along with this movement of people came the movement of non-native species into these urbanized areas, both intentional (e.g. through agriculture) and not (e.g. as invasive species). This is concerning, as invasive species could have detrimental impacts both on the environment and on our agriculture and economy. Armored scale insects are invertebrate plant pests with over 2,000 described species, many of which are invasive in the USA. Because they are found nearly everywhere on woody plants, I used these as a study organism to test if there is an association between invasive species of armored scale insects and urbanized areas. I do so by comparing the ratio of invasive to native species abundance of armored scale insects on plant hosts in these environments. I used molecular systematic techniques, including DNA sequencing, to examine the population demographics in the two differing environments. The findings I present will be the first to explicitly examine armored scale abundances across urban and non-urban landscapes while controlling for the confounding effects of different host plant communities. These findings, in turn, give us insights into the causes and consequences of urbanization for the establishment of invasive species.