, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 29-39

Street trees and rural conspecifics: Will long-lived trees reach full size in urban conditions?

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Urban conditions are known to affect tree growth, but not all trees respond similarly to presumed stress. I test a hypothesis that successional status of hardwood tree species, rather than taxon, will differentially affect tree size relative to age, in forest versus street plantings. In central Ohio, USA, samples (N = 230) representing 15 native tree species were matched for size between rural woodlot and city street-side conditions. Their girth was measured and their age determined by a count of annual growth rings. Age and size data were analyzed by a general linear model. Most urban trees had smaller trunk diameters than rural conspecifics of the same age. However, trees of early and mid-successional ecologies, despite smaller girth, showed no reduction in growth rate over time. Late successional species appeared to be affected by proximity to impervious areas, showing reduced growth rates, and by inference,reduced ultimate size.