Aim To determine relative effects of habitat type, climate and spatial pattern on species richness and composition of native and alien plant assemblages in central European cities.
Location Central Europe, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Methods The diversity of native and alien flora was analysed in 32 cities. In each city, plant species were recorded in seven 1-ha plots that represented seven urban habitat types with specific disturbance regimes. Plants were classified into native species, archaeophytes (introduced before ad 1500) and neophytes (introduced later). Two sets of explanatory variables were obtained for each city: climatic data and all-scale spatial variables generated by analysis of principal coordinates of neighbour matrices. For each group of species, the effect of habitat type, climate and spatial variables on variation in species composition was determined by variation partitioning. Responses of individual plant species to climatic variables were tested using a set of binomial regression models. Effects of climatic variables on the proportion of alien species were determined by linear regression.
Results In all cities, 562 native plant species, 188 archaeophytes and 386 neophytes were recorded. Proportions of alien species varied among urban habitats. The proportion of native species decreased with increasing range and mean annual temperature, and increased with increasing precipitation. In contrast, proportions of archaeophytes and neophytes increased with mean annual temperature. However, spatial pattern explained a larger proportion of variation in species composition of the urban flora than climate. Archaeophytes were more uniformly distributed across the studied cities than the native species and neophytes. Urban habitats rich in native species also tended to be rich in archaeophytes and neophytes.
Main conclusions Species richness and composition of central European urban floras are significantly affected by urban habitat types, climate and spatial pattern. Native species, archaeophytes and neophytes differ in their response to these factors.