Using biological traits to assess how urbanization filters plant species of small woodlands

Authors

  • Jeanne Vallet,

    1. Agrocampus Ouest – Centre d'Angers, Institut National d'Horticulture et de Paysage, UP Paysage, 2 rue Le Nôtre, F–49045 Angers Cedex 01, France.
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  • Hervé Daniel,

    1. Agrocampus Ouest – Centre d'Angers, Institut National d'Horticulture et de Paysage, UP Paysage, 2 rue Le Nôtre, F–49045 Angers Cedex 01, France.
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  • Véronique Beaujouan,

    1. Agrocampus Ouest – Centre d'Angers, Institut National d'Horticulture et de Paysage, UP Paysage, 2 rue Le Nôtre, F–49045 Angers Cedex 01, France.
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  • Françoise Rozé,

    1. Université de Rennes 1, UMR 6553 Ecobio, Campus de Beaulieu, Avenue du Général Leclerc, Bât 14, F–35042 Rennes Cedex.
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  • Sandrine Pavoine

    1. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-P6, 61 rue Buffon, F–75005 Paris.
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  • Co-ordinating Editor: Prof. Martin Hermy

Daniel, H. (corresponding author, herve.daniel@agrocampus-ouest.fr), Vallet, J. (jeanne.vallet@laposte.netf) & Beaujouan, V. (veronique.beaujouan@agrocampus-ouest.fr): Agrocampus Ouest – Centre d'Angers, Institut National d'Horticulture et de Paysage, UP Paysage, 2 rue Le Nôtre, F–49045 Angers Cedex 01, France.
Rozé, F. (francoise.roze@univ-rennes1.fr): Université de Rennes 1, UMR 6553 Ecobio, Campus de Beaulieu, Avenue du Général Leclerc, Bât 14, F–35042 Rennes Cedex.
Pavoine, S. (pavoine@mnhn.fr): Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-P6, 61 rue Buffon, F–75005 Paris.

Abstract

Question: Which biological traits (persistence, regeneration, dispersion traits and resource requirements) may explain the distribution of woodland flora along an urban–rural gradient?

Location: The study was carried out in three medium-sized conurbations of north-western France: Angers, Nantes and Rennes.

Methods: We sampled the vegetation of 36 small woodlands of about 1.5 ha composed of non-planted vegetation along an urban–rural gradient. We characterized the position of woodlands along the urban–rural gradient by examining adjacent land cover. By using an ordination analysis (RLQ), we analysed which traits out of –23 tested were related to the contrasted distribution of species along the urban–rural gradient.

Results: Species that are more likely to be found in urban woodlands than rural woodlands have different persistence traits (higher specific leaf area, more often rosette or semi-rosette form, less underground vegetative multiplication), resource requirements (affinity for base-rich and fertile soils) and regeneration traits (short life-span). Dispersion traits were not related to the distribution of species along the urban–rural gradient.

Conclusions: Our approach identifies traits that can help to determine the vulnerability of forest species as a result of the environmental changes that follow urbanization. Limiting the influence of the urban environment on habitat quality (particularly disturbance and soil enrichment) is likely to be of major importance in maintaining the plant biodiversity in woodlands.

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