, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 291-300
Date: 29 Jan 2008

Private Urban Greenspaces or “Patios” as a Key Element in the Urban Ecology of Tropical Central America

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Introduction

Urban ecology is a relatively new discipline (Sukopp 1998; 2002) but is the subject of growing interest due to the increasing size of cities and the ever more blurred boundaries between rural and urban areas. In recent years, there have numerous studies on the plant communities that appear spontaneously in different urban habitats. The diversity and abundance of these communities has been frequently associated with land use and urbanisation gradients (McDonell and Pickett 1990; Blair 1996; Kent et al.1999; Luck and Wu 2002; Hope et al.2003), as well as with historical components and building types (Starfinger and Sukopp 1994; Kent et al.1999; Dana et al.2002; Zerbe et al.2003).

Some attempts have been made to highlight the importance and contribution to biodiversity of urban gardens, especially in the UK (Owen and Owen 1975; Owen 1991, Thompson et al.2003). Other authors describe urban gardens as “the last great system to be studied by urban ecologists” (Gilbert 1989), or as ...