Seminar: Meghan Avolio - SESYNC, 11am

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Meghan Avolio, SESYNC
Time of Event: 
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 11:00

National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)
1 Park Place, Suite 300
Annapolis, MD 21401


Title: Social drivers of cultivated plant community assembly in semi-arid cities

Abstract: The majority of the world's population lives in an urban ecosystem, which is one of the few ecosystem types currently expanding world-wide. Despite their prevalence and importance, relatively little theory exists regarding plant community processes in cultivated urban environments. To address this knowledge gap, first I investigated plant diversity of cultivated areas (city trees, residential yards, and community gardens) in Los Angeles to draw generalities of plants diversity in managed areas. Overall, urbanization increases plant diversity, and exotic cultivated plants account for the majority of vegetation. Next, I developed a framework for community assembly in cities that includes uniquely urban processes such as the role of plant nurseries and manager preferences and actions. Lastly, I tested this framework to understand patterns of city tree diversity in Salt Lake City. In Salt Lake City, resident preferences strongly correlate with traits of the urban forest and neighborhoods have distinct tree communities. Also, income is a strong driver of private tree diversity, which is possibly driven by nursery choice and associated tree cost. Overall, in semi-arid cities where lush vegetation and trees were not a natural feature of the pre-urban landscape, residents and their preferences are an important driver of biodiversity patterns.

Seminar presented by Meghan Avolio, postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC).

SESYNC seminars are open to all interested attendees. Join us in Annapolis!

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, funded through an award to the University of Maryland from the National Science Foundation, is a research center dedicated to accelerating data-driven scientific discovery at the interface of human and ecological systems. Visit us online at and follow us on Twitter @SESYNC.

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