Phylogenetic ecology and the greening of cities.

Published online
28 Sep 2016
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

MacIvor, J. S. & Cadotte, M. W. & Livingstone, S. W. & Lundholm, J. T. & Yasui, S. L. E.
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Ecologists are increasingly involved in city-making, especially in the development of green infrastructure and other designed plant communities. Plant communities that are more phylogenetically related are more similar in functional traits and adaptations to their environment than distant relatives. Knowledge of how evolutionary relationships among plant species influence ecosystem functions could be applied to green infrastructure to improve benefits such as urban cooling, habitat creation and stormwater management. The intended outcomes of manipulations of phylogenetic diversity (PD) may vary depending on project goals, particularly when considering the trade-offs between multiple ecosystem functions. For instance, constraining PD could improve survival and performance in stressful environments or short growing seasons. Increasing PD could improve habitat diversity, aesthetics and other direct human benefits. Synthesis and applications. Given the potential benefits of considering phylogenetic relationships of plant communities in green infrastructure, we recommend that ecologists work with landscape architects and other design professionals to test how ecophylogenetics - the application of phylogenies in ecology - might aid in achieving desired outcomes for green infrastructure.

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