Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Potential effects of global change to urban vegetation: vulnerability and adaptations.

Abstract

An urban area is a space with high population density which develops new, major and complex structures in comparison to the areas surrounding it. The urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations. In order to develop these structures and to maintain population and its activity, the metabolism of urban areas needs a lot of external sources of energy and nutrients (water, food, materials ...) and it produces heat waste, garbage, sewage and pollution, which are some of the major problems for urban sites, and the areas close to and far from it. This metabolism develops specific microclimates, which are attributable to the large clustering of heat absorbent surfaces that heat up under sunlight, the important modifications in hydrological cycle due to drastic soil reduction, and the channeling rainwater in underground ducts. This metabolism promotes major environmental changes in the urban areas. Since the XIX century, the hygienist movement has developed a new way of life by means of gardens and landscape design. This process has been increased in the last decades together with the development of economics and social sensibility. As a result, urbanism and landscaping have acquired a very important role in the quality of life. These environmental changes modify native flora and plants used in gardening. The main environmental factors that affect vegetation in urban areas are: water stress (drought at soil and air level), flooding, salinity, radiation and light intensity, wind, pollutants, competitiveness among species and invasive species, which is defined as global change. Ecophysiological studies can provide objective information to be used as a tool to improve the vegetation management in urban areas from design to process, and consequently avoiding the potential vulnerabilities associated with global change. This presentation is mainly focused on Barcelona's vegetation.