Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ecologists use 70-year-old pressed plants to chart city's vanishing native flora

Date:
March 18, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
More than half of the world's population now lives in cities, yet we know little about how urbanization affects biodiversity. In one the first studies of its kind, ecologists in Indianapolis, USA have used 70-year-old dried plant specimens to track the impact of increasing urbanization on plants.

More than half of the world's population now lives in cities, yet we know little about how urbanization affects biodiversity. In one the first studies of its kind, ecologists in Indianapolis, USA have used 70 year-old dried plant specimens to track the impact of increasing urbanization on plants.

Related Articles


The results are published this week in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Ecology.

Lead by Dr Rebecca Dolan, director of the Friesner Herbarium, Butler University, the team examined 2,800 dried plants collected around Indianapolis before 1940 and compared these with plants they and their students found at 16 field sites between 1996 and 2006.

They discovered that increasing urbanization has wrought major changes to Indianapolis's plant species. Although the city supports a similar number of plant species -- around 700 -- today's flora has fewer native plants and more non-native species, which have been introduced from other parts of the world and are now spreading on their own.

The study found that over the past 70 years, Indianapolis's native plants have been lost at a rate of 2.4 species per year, while over the same period 1.4 non-natives arrive each year. According to Dolan: "This study shows that our flora is becoming less distinctive."

Plants now lost to Indianapolis include Queen-of-the-prairie (Filipendula rubra), a member of the rose family with fantastic wands of pink flowers. It was last found growing in a damp spot by the Water Canal at 52nd Street in July 1935. Another loss is the Virginia bunchflower (Melanthium virginicum), a member of the lily family with striking stalks of white flowers.

Arrivals include the invasive Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and Amur bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). "Japanese knotweed was brought to our area as an ornamental. It spreads readily by seed and by root sprouts, forming thickets that choke out native species," says Dolan.

"Amur bush honeysuckle was once promoted by the USDA's Soil Conservation Service for erosion control and wildlife food, but we now know it does neither. Instead, it has spread and become a pest plant, covering the banks of many of the city's streams and woodland edges, and land managers spend a lot of money eradicating it."

The study has important lessons for cities, biodiversity and the potential dangers posed by non-native species.

Because so many of us now live in cities, urban floras are becoming increasingly important. According to Dolan: "As cities continue to grow, urban green spaces are becoming important refuges for native biodiversity and for people. In coming decades, most people's contact with nature will be in urban settings, so the social importance of urban plants has never been greater."

"A clear message for the future is to be careful when planting non-native material, especially in great numbers, due to the likelihood of introduced non-native plants becoming pests," she says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rebecca W. Dolan, Marcia E. Moore, Jessica D. Stephens. Documenting effects of urbanization on flora using herbarium records. Journal of Ecology, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2011.01820.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Ecologists use 70-year-old pressed plants to chart city's vanishing native flora." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110318091012.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, March 18). Ecologists use 70-year-old pressed plants to chart city's vanishing native flora. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110318091012.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Ecologists use 70-year-old pressed plants to chart city's vanishing native flora." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110318091012.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The Galapagos tortoise has made a stupendous recovery from the brink of extinction to a population of more than 1,000. But it still faces threats. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Oatmeal is a fantastic way to start your day. Whichever way you prepare them, oats provide your body with many health benefits. In celebration of National Oatmeal Day, Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has a few recipe ideas, and tips on how to kickstart your day with this wholesome snack! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
GoPro Video Gives a Lion's-Eye View of The Hunt

GoPro Video Gives a Lion's-Eye View of The Hunt

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) If you’ve ever wondered what getting takeout looks like for lions in Africa, the GoPro video from Lion Whisperer Kevin Richardson will give you a lion’s-eye view of the hunt. Jen Markham has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins