Ecosystem services associated with aquatic plants in urban landscapes

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sch of Biology

Abstract

This project will focus on the relationships between aquatic plant communities and the urban environment. Specifically, this project will address two key topics.
1) Influence of urban environment of aquatic plant distribution and functional ecology
Urban aquatic plant distributions are determined by a combination of dispersal and habitat-level processes: can a species reach a new site, and can it establish once arrived? Theories about the niche/neutral processes underlying urban aquatic plant distributions will be tested using an extensive dataset of UK urban pond plant communities. Specific hypotheses will be tested, including: (i) biotic homogenisation of urban sites, (ii) stronger spatial structuring of communities in cities, (iii) and the hump-backed relationship between urbanisation and plant species richness observed in terrestrial ecosystems. These analyses can be expanded by incorporating functional plant traits to investigate functional diversity and redundancy within urban waterbodies.
2) Mechanistic role of aquatic plants in the delivery of urban ecosystem (dis)services
Urban aquatic plants contribute both positively, through the enhancement of biodiversity, the phytoremediation of urban run-off, and the improvement of local aesthetics, as well as negatively, through their role as invasive species (e.g. New Zealand pigmy weed) or nuisance species (e.g. toxic algal blooms).

Publications

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