Urban heat island effect on cicada densities in metropolitan Seoul

Hoa Q. Nguyen, Desiree K. Andersen, Yuseob Kim, Yikweon Jang

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11 Scopus citations


Background. Urban heat island (UHI) effect, the ubiquitous consequence of urbaniza- tion, is considered to play a major role in population expansion of numerous insects. Cryptotympana atrata and Hyalessa fuscata are the most abundant cicada species in the Korean Peninsula, where their population densities are higher in urban than in rural areas. We predicted a positive relationship between the UHI intensities and population densities of these two cicada species in metropolitan Seoul. Methods. To test this prediction, enumeration surveys of cicada exuviae densities were conducted in 36 localities located within and in the vicinity of metropolitan Seoul. Samples were collected in two consecutive periods from July to August 2015. The abundance of each species was estimated by two resource-weighted densities, one based on the total geographic area, and the other on the total number of trees. Multiple linear regression analyses were performed to identify factors critical for the prevalence of cicada species in the urban habitat. Results. C. atrata and H. fuscata were major constituents of cicada species composition collected across all localities. Minimum temperature and sampling period were significant factors contributing to the variation in densities of both species, whereas other environmental factors related to urbanization were not significant. More cicada exuviae were collected in the second rather than in the first samplings, which matched the phenological pattern of cicadas in metropolitan Seoul. Cicada population densities increased measurably with the increase in temperature. Age of residential complex also exhibited a significantly positive correlation to H. fuscata densities, but not to C. atrata densities. Discussion. Effects of temperature on cicada densities have been discerned from other environmental factors, as cicada densities increased measurably in tandem with elevated temperature. Several mechanisms may contribute to the abundance of cicadas in urban environments, such as higher fecundity of females, lower mortality rate of instars, decline in host plant quality, and local adaptation of organisms, but none of them were tested in the current study. Conclusions. In sum, results of the enumeration surveys of cicada exuviae support the hypothesis that the UHI effect underlies the population expansion of cicadas in metropolitan Seoul. Nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms for this remain untested.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4238
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Nguyen et al.


  • Cicada exuviae
  • Cryptotympana atrata
  • Hyalessa fuscata
  • Population dynamics
  • Urban heat island


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