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Forests 2016, 7(6), 120; doi:10.3390/f7060120

How Do Urban Forests Compare? Tree Diversity in Urban and Periurban Forests of the Southeastern US

1
Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, USA
2
Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Biology Program, Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá D.C., Colombia
3
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Timothy A. Martin
Received: 29 April 2016 / Revised: 31 May 2016 / Accepted: 3 June 2016 / Published: 9 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban and Periurban Forest Diversity and Ecosystem Services)
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Abstract

There is a need to understand how anthropogenic influences affect urban and periurban forest diversity at the regional scale. This study aims to compare urban and periurban tree composition along a geographic gradient, and test hypotheses about species composition and ecological homogeneity. We paired urban forest (UF) data from eight cities across the southeastern US with periurban forest (PF) data from the USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis program. We found that tree diversity, as well as both observed and estimated species richness values were greater in UF versus PF. Community size structure analysis also indicated a greater proportion of large trees and greater numbers of non-native, invasive, and unclassified tree species in the UF versus the PF, regardless of location. Both forest type and ecological province had a significant effect on community species composition, with forests closer together in space being more similar to each other than those more distant. While land use change and management has been associated with ecological homogenization in human dominated landscapes, we found that species composition was more dissimilar along latitudinal lines than compared to between forest types, refuting this hypothesis, at least in terms of tree diversity. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban forest composition; regional diversity; forest inventory and analysis; ecological homogenization urban forest composition; regional diversity; forest inventory and analysis; ecological homogenization
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Blood, A.; Starr, G.; Escobedo, F.; Chappelka, A.; Staudhammer, C. How Do Urban Forests Compare? Tree Diversity in Urban and Periurban Forests of the Southeastern US. Forests 2016, 7, 120.

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