, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 911-925
Date: 18 Jul 2012

Plant diversity and distribution in urban domestic gardens and apartments in Bangalore, India

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Although urban domestic gardens hold great significance for biodiversity support in cities, these habitats have been relatively insufficiently studied, especially in developing country contexts. This paper assesses the composition, diversity, density and distribution of plant vegetation in urban domestic gardens in the rapidly expanding south Indian city of Bangalore. Overall species diversity is high, with 1,668 trees from 91 species, as well as 192 species of herbs and shrubs encountered from a total sample of 328 urban single domestic gardens and shared apartment gardens distributed across the city. The majority of species were uncommon, found in less than 5 % of all sampled locations. A high proportion of about 30 % of all species had uses as food or as spices, medicinal properties, and/or religious significance. In general, large shared apartment gardens and single domestic gardens had a greater number of trees with larger size, and greater tree and herb/shrub diversity compared to small shared apartment gardens and small to moderate sized single domestic gardens. Shared apartment gardens tended to harbor relatively distinct sets of species, especially trees, palms and plants with largely ornamental significance, while single domestic gardens contained a greater proportion of flowering and medicinal plants used in daily worship, as well as fruit bearing and spice bearing plants and trees. Residents observed a wide range of other animal and insect species in their gardens, but also indicated a decrease in wildlife biodiversity over time. The majority of residents observed some cultural practices associated with feeding of urban wildlife and insects including the provision of rice and water for birds, and of sugar for ants. The results of this research provide a comprehensive description of plant diversity and distribution in single domestic gardens and shared apartment gardens of different sizes, which can be very important for citizen groups, planners and administrators working towards urban planting and greening in the south Indian city of Bangalore. They also supplement the extremely limited information currently available on urban domestic gardens outside of cities in the west.