Why do plants go extinct in cities?
Because there isn’t room for them? An international team of scientists found that the following factors relate to how many plants have gone extinct in cities (in approximate order of importance):
- How long the city’s been there (older cities have had more extinctions; new cities can perhaps expect to lose more in the future). Older cities have a lower rate of extinctions, though, suggesting that extinctions happen quickly at first, then slow down.
- How much of the native vegetation remains (the more there is, the fewer native plants will have gone extinct). If you have to house a million people, though, the more native vegetation you want in your city, the larger it will be. So is it better overall to build a small city without much vegetation, and leave the area around it to nature?
No revolutionary conclusions, I think. The study’s also interesting because the methods section refers to use of Wikipedia. Only for looking up the ages of the cities, but it suggests that the editable encyclopaedia is gaining enough acceptance to be mentioned.
BBC News story, where I picked the study up
The original paper in Ecology Letter (Hahs et al, 2008, A global synthesis of plant extinction rates in urban areas, Ecology Letters In Press)