Background. Cryptotympana atrata and Hyalessa fuscata are the most abundant cicada species in the Korean Peninsula, where their population densities are higher in urban areas than in rural ones. The urban heat island (UHI) effect, wherein human activities cause urban areas to be significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas, may underlie this difference. We predicted a positive relationship between the degrees of UHI in urban areas and population densities of C. atrata and H. fuscata.
Methods. To test this prediction, we examined cicada population densities in three groups: those of high and low UHI areas within metropolitan Seoul, and suburban areas. Enumeration surveys of cicada exuviae were conducted from July to August, 2015.
Results. C. atrata and H. fuscata constituted almost 30% and 70% of the cicada populations, respectively, collected across all sampling localities. No significant difference in species composition was observed, regardless of groups, but the densities of the two species were significantly higher in urban areas with high UHI than in other groups. Specifically, densities of C. atrata in high UHI areas were approximately seven and four times higher compared to those in low UHI and in suburban groups, respectively. The order of magnitude was greater in H. fuscata, where densities in high UHI group were respectively 22 and six times higher than those in low UHI and in suburban groups.
Discussion. These results suggest that the UHI effect may be closely linked to high cicada densities in metropolitan Seoul, although the underlying mechanism for this remains unclear.