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 Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University

nachricht From the Arctic to the tropics: researchers present a unique database on Earth’s vegetation
20.11.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>