• A conceptual framework for predicting the effects of urban environments on floras.

      Williams, Nicholas S. G.; Schwartz, Mark W.; Vesk, Peter A.; McCarthy, Michael A.; Hahs, Amy K.; Clemants, Steven E.; Corlett, Richard T.; Duncan, Richard P.; Norton, Briony, A.; Thompson, Ken; et al. (British Ecological Society, 2009-01)
      1 With the majority of people now living in urban environments, urbanization is arguably the most intensive and irreversible ecosystem change on the planet. 2 Urbanization transforms floras through a series of filters that change: (i) habitat availability; (ii) the spatial arrangement of habitats; (iii) the pool of plant species; and (iv) evolutionary selection pressures on populations persisting in the urban environment. 3 Using a framework based on mechanisms of change leads to specific predictions of floristic change in urban environments. Explicitly linking drivers of floristic change to predicted outcomes in urban areas can facilitate sustainable management of urban vegetation as well as the conservation of biodiversity. 4 Synthesis. We outline how the use of our proposed framework, based on environmental filtering, can be used to predict responses of floras to urbanization. These floristic responses can be assessed using metrics of taxonomic composition, phylogenetic relatedness among species, plant trait distributions or plant community structure. We outline how this framework can be applied to studies that compare floras within cities or among cities to better understand the various floristic responses to urbanization.
    • A global synthesis of plant extinction rates in urban areas.

      Hahs, Amy K.; McDonnell, Mark J.; McCarthy, Michael A.; Vesk, Peter A.; Corlett, Richard T.; Norton, Briony, A.; Clemants, Steven E.; Duncan, Richard P.; Thompson, Ken; Schwartz, Mark W.; et al. (Wiley, 2009-10-13)
      Plant extinctions from urban areas are a growing threat to biodiversity worldwide. To minimize this threat, it is critical to understand what factors are influencing plant extinction rates. We compiled plant extinction rate data for 22 cities around the world. Two‐thirds of the variation in plant extinction rates was explained by a combination of the city’s historical development and the current proportion of native vegetation, with the former explaining the greatest variability. As a single variable, the amount of native vegetation remaining also influenced extinction rates, particularly in cities > 200 years old. Our study demonstrates that the legacies of landscape transformations by agrarian and urban development last for hundreds of years, and modern cities potentially carry a large extinction debt. This finding highlights the importance of preserving native vegetation in urban areas and the need for mitigation to minimize potential plant extinctions in the future.