November 30 2016

12:00 LSB 2320

G. Darrel Jenerette
Department of Botany and Plant Sciences
University of California, Riverside

Cities Are Hotspots of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Cities Are Hotspots of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services


A common characterization of urbanization is the “concrete jungle” devoid of biodiversity and ecological relationships. While pervasive, I pose the alternate perspective that cities can be hotspots of biodiversity with an extensive web of ecological interactions that lead to highly valued ecosystem services. Using examples from both urban forests and city gardens, both of which are pervasive across cities globally, I show unexpectedly high rates of plant biodiversity within cities and extensive variation among cities at continental scales. Further, urban plant communities provide extensive ecosystem services directly associated with societal vulnerability. Many plants provide nutrient dense food for urban residents, which can fill a void for communities located within food deserts. Plants also provide extensive local climate cooling. Recent data from spatial and temporal analyses suggest vegetation-based urban cooling may act as a negative climate feedback where more cooling benefits occur in warmer environments. These cooling benefits could lead to more resilience in moderating heat related health consequences of urban warming. In constructing urban plant communities and using their services locally, a key trade-off is the pervasive requirement for ongoing irrigation inputs. Evaluating the relative importance of the benefits and water costs poses an ongoing challenge. In understanding the causes and consequences of urban plant diversity a framework that explicitly includes the pervasive role of human decision making and the immutable constraints of biological capacity will provide a lens for conceptualizing an ecological theory for the Anthropocene.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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