Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Live fast, die young

18.04.2012
Plant species living in urban backyards are closer related to each other and live shorter than plant species in the countryside.

Cities in both, the US and Europe harbour more plant species than rural areas. However, plant species of urban areas are closer related to each other and often share similar functions. Consequently, urban ecosystems should be more sensitive towards environmental impacts than rural ecosystems.


This is concluded by German and US scientists based on a field study in Minneapolis (Minnesota) led by Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. The new study confirms results obtained by Dr. Sonja Knapp and colleagues of Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in a study on the German flora in 2008. The new results have been published as a preprint in ECOLOGY and have been highlighted in the renowned science magazine NATURE.

The recent study compared plant diversity in private yards of the Twin Cities metropolis Minneapolis-St. Paul in the Midwest of the United States with plant diversity at the nearby Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, part of the Long-Term Ecological Research network supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Cities are growing around the world, and understanding how urbanization and urban gardening impact biodiversity and ecosystem services is increasingly important. Scientists from the University of Minnesota, UFZ in Halle and Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, the University of California, and Whittier College California asked how different urban plant diversity in private yards is from the diversity of naturally occurring plants. Using a newly established global plant trait database (TRY), they found that the typical spontaneous yard species is short-lived, fast-growing, produces small seeds, uses humans as dispersal vectors, and is adapted to high temperatures.

The scientists point out that the promotion of self-pollinated species by the urban environment might result into cascading effects on pollinators: "If self-pollinating species are supported by urbanization and consequently increase their frequency in the regional species pool, fewer pollinators such as bees or butterflies will be supported" says Sonja Knapp. The scientists are also critical about invasive species that can be dispersed beyond yard boundaries. Still, cultivating more native plant species could have positive effects on the evolutionary diversity and potential of urban vegetation. „As yard plants spread into natural habitats, the ability of those ecosystems to respond to environmental change could be reduced", summarizes NATURE in its current „Research Highlights". "These results suggest that urbanites should consider gardening and harboring a higher number of native species," says Cavender-Bares.

In the 2008-study on the German flora, Sonja Knapp and colleagues analysed 14 million entries on plant occurrences in the FLORKART-database, which have been acquired by thousands of experts and volunteers. In the face of changing environmental conditions, nature conservation should not only focus on the protection of a high number of species, but also on evolutionary diversity. As urbanization will continue to shape our planet, nature conservation strategies for urban biodiversity should be developed, stated the scientists in their 2008-article in Ecology Letters.

The loss of evolutionary information will reduce species‘ chances to adapt to environmental changes and might, on the long term, negatively impact urban ecosystems. This assumption has now been confirmed with the Minnesotan field study.

Tilo Arnhold
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=30376
Publication:
Knapp, S., Dinsmore, L., Fissore, C., Hobbie, S. E., Jakobsdottir, I., Kattge, J., King, J., Klotz, S., -McFadden, J. P. & Cavender-Bares, J. (2012): Phylogenetic and functional characteristics of household yard floras and their changes along an urbanization gradient. Ecology, in Press

http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/11-0392.1

A look at backyard biodiversity.
Nature 484, 144 (12 April 2012); doi:10.1038/484144b
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/484144b
More scientific information:
Dr. Sonja Knapp
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Phone: +49 (0) 345-558-5308
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=7278
or
Tilo Arnhold (UFZ-press office)
Phone: +49 (0) 341-235-1269
E-mail: presse@ufz.de
Additional links:
Similarity of urban flora - New study shows that plants in towns and cities are more closely related than those in the countryside (Press release September, 18th 2008)

http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=17194

At the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) scientists are researching the causes and consequences of far-reaching changes to the environment. They are concerned with water resources, biological diversity, the consequences of climate change and adaptability, environmental and biotechnologies, bioenergy, the behaviour of chemicals in the environment, their effect on health, modelling and social science issues. Their guiding theme: Our research contributes to the sustainable use of natural resources and helps to secure this basis for life over the long term under the effects of global change. The UFZ employs 1,000 people in Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. It is financed by the federal government and the federal states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.

http://www.ufz.de/

The Helmholtz Association contributes towards solving major and pressing social, scientific and economic issues with scientific excellence in six research areas: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Structure of Matter, Aeronautics, Aerospace and Transport. The Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest scientific organisation with over 33,000 employees in 17 research centres and an annual budget of approximately 3 billion euros. Its work stands in the tradition of the naturalist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).

http://www.helmholtz.de

Tilo Arnhold | UFZ News
Further information:
http://www.ufz.de/
http://www.helmholtz.de

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>