PS 59-37 - Tree naturalization as a means of provisioning ecosystem services in an arid urban ecosystem

Thursday, August 11, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Chris Martin1, Sharon L. Harlan2 and Juan Declet-Barreto2, (1)Applied Biological Sciences, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ, (2)School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Tree naturalization as an ecological process is predicated on establishment of a new self-perpetuating population with a capacity for wide dispersion within a region and incorporation into a resident flora.  Tree composition and structure of urban landscapes is typically prescribed by a design modality.  Earlier research has shown that in arid cities like Phoenix, landscape vegetation composition is largely driven by luxury and legacy effects and is most lacking in residential neighborhoods of lower socio-economic condition. The objective of this research was to discover the contributions of naturalized tree species to provisioning ecosystem services in a lower socio-economic neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona, USA.  Surveys of the composition and structure of woody perennial trees were made during Fall 2009. 


A total of 38 tree taxa were found and total tree coverage as a percentage of total landscape surface area was found to be 23.3%.  Of all trees identified in the neighborhood, 61% of trees were not intentionally planted and were distributed between four naturalized tree taxa, Leucaena leucocephala (39%), Prosopis velutina (12%), Melia azederach (6%), and Washingtonia filifera (4%).  Microclimate data and resident interviews also showed the value of these naturalized trees in provisioning local residents with ecosystem services of microclimate cooling and landscape aesthetics as a coping mechanism against the prevalence of environmental disamenities that predominate low income and minority neighborhoods in the city of Phoenix.

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