1067-4136/01/3205- $25.00 © 2001
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 32, No. 5, 2001, pp. 315–325. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 5, 2001, pp. 343–354.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2001 by Bol’shakov, Pyastolova, Vershinin.
Today, humankind may be regarded as a unique
integrating component of the biosphere. Its powerful
inﬂuence qualitatively transforms the Earth’s ecosys-
tems. Individual species and their communities respond
to environmental changes by undergoing active adapta-
tion. This natural response of the communities involves
the processes that may be regarded as microevolution-
ary transformations at the population level (Shvarts,
1974). This is why the ecosystems of urbanized and
technogenic landscapes are among the most interesting
objects for ecologists, as they are a natural testing
ground for studying the rapid microevolution of popu-
lations, their reaction norms, and the ranges of varia-
tion, tolerance, and adaptive capacities. Many trends in
population dynamics and microevolutionary transfor-
mations become especially distinct under conditions of
spatial isolation, low population density, and changes
in chemical and other parameters of the environment.
New, rejuvenated biogeocenoses lack internal bal-
ance characteristic of ancient communities and are less
autonomous. The number of dominant species in such
biogeocenoses is sharply reduced, and the stability of a
community is maintained owing to the biological plas-
ticity and intraspeciﬁc population heterogeneity of the
dominant species (Shvarts, 1976). This entails changes
in the species composition, abundance, and other pop-
ulation parameters important for the formation of stable
and productive biological communities. In such a situ-
ation, a decrease in biological diversity is at issue.
Since the animals respond differently to various doses
of pollutants (Pyastolova
studying the effects of anthropogenic factors on some
organisms should take into account their biological fea-
tures, reaction norm, place and role in the structure of
trophic relationships, etc. Regrettably, trends in the
dynamics of biodiversity in a gradient of anthropogenic
factors have rarely been studied in real situations.
This work deals with the analysis of changes in eco-
system biodiversity in the gradient of technogenic pol-
lution and urbanization.
Observations were performed to collect information
at different levels of biological organization, namely,
the ecosystem, species, population, organism, and cyto-
logical levels. As population mechanisms play an
important role in maintaining the biogeocenotic bal-
ance, emphasis was made on the population approach.
We performed a comprehensive study of speciﬁc
structural and functional features of anthropogenically
transformed biocenoses, having analyzed in detail the
species composition of anthropogenic communities of
murine rodents, amphibians, and soil invertebrates.
Attention was given to the species actively involved in
the ﬂows of matter and energy. We often used estima-
tions of biological diversity and the constituent popula-
tion parameters, with the concept of “biological diver-
sity” encompassing the genetic variability of species,
populations, and life forms; the diversity of species
complexes and their interactions; and the structural and
Specific Features of the Formation
of Animal Species Communities
in Technogenic and Urbanized Landscapes
V. N. Bol’shakov, O. A. Pyastolova, and V. L. Vershinin
Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Division, Russian Academy of Sciences,
ul. Vos’mogo Marta 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144 Russia
Received November 28, 2000
—The formation of the species composition and speciﬁc functional, physiological, and phenotypic
features of populations in technogenic and urbanized areas was studied by analyzing murine rodents, amphib-
ians, and soil invertebrates. It is shown that, against the background of decreasing total abundance and biomass
of animals, their formerly continuous ranges become mosaic, with the locally increasing animal density and
heterogeneity and speciﬁc population dynamics. Species diversity decreases; however, species alien to the nat-
ural ecosystems of the given territory appear. Changes in the strategies of reproduction and food resource use
were revealed in the species communities of small mammals and amphibians.
: community ecology, ecosystem stability, murine rodents, amphibians, soil invertebrates, anthropo-
genic transformation of the environment.