Psychological benefits of greenspace increase with biodiversity
ABSTRACT The world's human population is becoming concentrated into cities, giving rise to concerns that it is becoming increasingly isolated from nature. Urban public greenspaces form the arena of many people's daily contact with nature and such contact has measurable physical and psychological benefits. Here we show that these psychological benefits increase with the species richness of urban greenspaces. Moreover, we demonstrate that greenspace users can more or less accurately perceive species richness depending on the taxonomic group in question. These results indicate that successful management of urban greenspaces should emphasize biological complexity to enhance human well-being in addition to biodiversity conservation.
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ABSTRACT: As our world becomes increasingly urbanized, cities are often where we come into contact with the natural world—not just in parks and urban nature preserves, but in more familiar places like residential yards. We conducted bird surveys and social surveys in Chicago-area residential landscapes near forest preserves (primarily in middle- and high income areas) to examine residents’ perceptions of the birds that co-inhabit their neighborhoods and the relationship of those perceptions with characteristics of the bird community. We found that residents value many aspects of neighborhood birds, especially those related to aesthetics and birds’ place in the ecosystem. Our results indicate that while birds were generally well liked and annoyances were minor, several common and visible urban species, such as the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), and Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), may attract attention for their negative qualities, such as their sounds and effects on personal property. The results also indicate that residents’ valuations of ecosystem services are linked to their perceptions of bird species richness rather than the actual species richness, and people may perceive only a subset of the birds in their neighborhoods. Although birds provide many important ecosystem services, perhaps one of their most important roles in cities is as a relatable and likable connecting point between city dwellers and the broader environment.The Condor 04/2015; in press. DOI:10.1650/CONDOR-14-128.1 · 1.35 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Diversity in the urban forest is important as it reduces risks from pests and diseases and from climate change and improves resilience in the supply of ecosystem services. To manage and improve diversity, there has been wide-spread acceptance of the 10/20/30 ‘rule of thumb’ proposed by Santamour, which states that municipal forests should comprise no more than 10% of any particular species, 20% of any one genus or 30% of any single family. While the implementation of targets based on Santamour's rule has contributed to a more diverse and resilient urban forest in many cities, there has been little empirical investigation of actual patterns of diversity occurring globally in different climates and land uses. In this study, we explored diversity and the relative abundance of the most common species, genus and family in 151 urban forest inventories from 108 different cities around the world. Observed patterns showed that relative abundance of the most common taxon was a good predictor of diversity and could be a useful measure of diversity for urban forest managers. Relative abundance of the most common taxon was much higher than the proposed benchmark at the species level, but comparable with proposed benchmarks at the genus and family level. Patterns varied by both climate and land use. Diversity was consistently lower in Continental climates and in streetscapes, and higher in Temperate climates and in urban forests that spanned multiple land uses. Further considerations in setting diversity benchmarks are discussed.Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 12/2014; 13(3). DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2014.04.004 · 2.13 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Urban ecology has quickly become established as a central part of ecological thinking. As cities continue to grow in size and number, two questions serve to unify this broad and multidisciplinary research landscape: (1) how can urban ecology contribute to the science of ecology, and (2) how can urban ecology be applied to make cities more livable and sustainable? In spite of the advances made thus far, there are many unexplored ways of integrating the science and application of urban ecology. Although scientists assess and make predictions regarding the connections between environmental and socioeconomic processes, practitioners involved in real-world application deal with urban planning and with designing ecosystem services to improve living conditions for all urban inhabitants and to make cities more sustainable. Research in urban ecosystems can be developed from many different perspectives, and we suggest that each perspective has something to offer both society and the science of ecology. We present several research perspectives and describe how these can integrate conceptual and applied aspects to bridge the figurative gaps between trees, buildings, and people.Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12/2014; 12(10):574-581. DOI:10.1890/140019 · 8.41 Impact Factor