Homogenization of plant diversity, composition, and structure in North American urban yards:

William D. Pearse, Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Sarah E. Hobbie, Meghan L. Avolio, Neil Bettez, Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Lindsay E. Darling, Peter M. Groffman, J. Morgan Grove, Sharon J. Hall, James B. Heffernan, Jennifer Learned, Christopher Neill, Kristen C. Nelson, Diane E. Pataki, Benjamin L. Ruddell, Meredith K. Steele, Tara L.E. Trammell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Urban ecosystems are widely hypothesized to be more ecologically homogeneous than natural ecosystems. We argue that urban plant communities assemble from a complex mix of horticultural and regional species pools, and evaluate the homogenization hypothesis by comparing cultivated and spontaneously occurring urban vegetation to natural area vegetation across seven major U.S. cities. There was limited support for homogenization of urban diversity, as the cultivated and spontaneous yard flora had greater numbers of species than natural areas, and cultivated phylogenetic diversity was also greater. However, urban yards showed evidence of homogenization of composition and structure. Yards were compositionally more similar across regions than were natural areas, and tree density was less variable in yards than in comparable natural areas. This homogenization of biodiversity likely reflects similar horticultural source pools, homeowner preferences, and management practices across U.S. cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02105
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Pearse et al.


  • aridity
  • ecosystem services
  • functional traits
  • phylogenetic diversity
  • plants
  • urban ecology


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