Ortí, M.A., Casanelles-Abella, J., Chiron, F., Deguines, N., Hallikma, T., Jaksi, P., Kwiatkowska, P.K., Moretti, M., Muyshondt, B., Niinemets, Ü., Pinho, P., Pinto, M.J., Saar, P., Samson, R., Tryjanowski, P., Mensel, A.V. & Laanisto, l. (2022) Negative relationship between woody species density and size of urban green spaces in seven European cities.Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 74, 127650. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2022.127650 (IF2021 5,766; Q1 Forestry)
Urban green spaces (UGSs) are important elements of urban landscapes. Woody vegetation is a key component of UGSs, providing many socio-ecological benefits such as habitat provision and human well-being. Knowing plant diversity and vegetation configuration that underpin urban ecosystem processes and functions is critical to maximize nature contributions to city dwellers. Here, we present a well-replicated multi-city study showing a detailed description of taxonomic and structural diversity of woody vegetation in 225 UGSs distributed across seven European cities along a NE-SW gradient. Our aim was to understand how UGSs attributes, including size and fragmentation, influence woody vegetation features. A total of 418 woody species belonging to 76 families were identified. UGS size displayed weak positive correlations with woody species richness, but a strong negative correlation with woody species density. Alien woody species were abundant in all cities (from 40% of all species recorded in Antwerp to 64% in Lisbon and Zurich). Among the native tree species we found a predominance of Pinus spp. in southern cities and Acer spp. in cooler climates. On average, tree canopies extent was 56% of UGSs. This paper provides insights on the plant diversity and woody vegetation composition in UGSs of different size, climate and urban planning history. Our results encourage and contribute to future urban ecology studies involving different taxa and ecosystem services as well as support effective urban planning and management practices.