Assessing the species diversity of an urban forest is important for understanding its structure and functions, but the result can be affected by sampling methods, times, and delimitations of the study area. In this study, we examined the influence of different ways to delimit boundaries of urban areas on the assessment of species diversity of urban forests through a case study conducted in Haikou, China. We surveyed the species diversity of the urban forest in Haikou twice using the same sampling protocol but two commonly used delimitations of the urban area. The two surveys produced significantly different estimates of species richness of the urban forest. Recorded species richness was 228 (144 woody and 84 herbaceous species) and 303 (164 woody and 139 herbaceous species) for the first and the second survey, respectively. The rarefaction analysis indicated that species richness of woody plants recorded in the two surveys could converge by doubling the sample size, but species richness of herbaceous plants was significantly different between the two surveys at the 95% confidence interval even at three times the original sample size. The value of the Simpson dissimilarity index between the two surveys was 0.417 and 0.357 for woody and herbaceous plants respectively, which implied noticeable dissimilarity of species compositions of plant assemblages in the two areas. We concluded that the assessment of biodiversity of an urban forest can be affected significantly by how the boundary of an urban area is defined. Caution should be taken when comparing species diversities of urban forests reported in different studies, especially when richness measures are used.
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