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Urban EcologyPatterns, Processes, and Applications$
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Jari Niemelä, Jürgen H. Breuste, Thomas Elmqvist, Glenn Guntenspergen, Philip James, and Nancy E. McIntyre

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563562

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563562.001.0001

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Plant Communities of Urban Wetlands: Patterns and Controlling Processes

Plant Communities of Urban Wetlands: Patterns and Controlling Processes

(p.77) Chapter 2.1 Plant Communities of Urban Wetlands: Patterns and Controlling Processes
Urban Ecology

Andrew H. Baldwin

Oxford University Press

Humans have lived in or relied on wetlands for food and materials throughout history, and many former settlements in wetland-rich areas have grown into major cities. This urban development has resulted in direct losses of vast areas of wetlands due to drainage, filling, and excavation, as well as impacts to remaining wetlands associated with watershed alteration. Urban wetland plant communities are typically characterized by species adapted to physical disturbance, which often means those having weedy or invasive characteristics. Non-native invasive plants are often more abundant in urban wetlands than rural or remote wetlands, and although they can contribute significantly to the diversity of the community species richness may be locally reduced due to competitive exclusion. Nonetheless urban wetlands are often hotspots of biodiversity, and may support species that are rare, native, and common that are important for conservation efforts. Plant communities in urban wetlands differ from those of rural or remote regions because of the overriding influence of the urban environment on factors affecting plant growth and community development. For example, relative to wetlands in other land use types, urban wetlands often experience flashier hydrology, higher nutrient and sediment loads, higher temperatures, more physical disturbance, more invasive plant species and herbivorous animals, greater fragmentation, fewer forested buffers, and greater distances between wetlands. Despite their altered plant communities, the wetlands remaining in urban regions are particularly important given the ecosystem and socioeconomic services they provide, many of which derive directly from the plant communities they support.

Keywords:   wetlands, development, watershed, invasive plants, biodiversity, plant communities, disturbance, fragmentation, ecosystem services

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