Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 211–223 | Cite as

Tree diversity, distribution, history and change in urban parks: studies in Bangalore, India

  • Harini Nagendra
  • Divya Gopal


Urban parks constitute critical biodiversity hotspots in crowded, concrete-dominated city environments. Despite the importance, they remain little researched. This paper assesses the biodiversity and distribution of trees in urban parks in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. 127 plots were used to survey tree distribution in parks across the city. The distribution is largely dominated by a few common species. The proportion of exotic species was very high, with 77% of trees belonging to introduced species. Park history had an impact on distribution. Old parks had fewer but larger trees, and greater species diversity compared to recently established parks. Old parks also differed in species composition, having a greater proportion of large canopy trees compared to young parks. Examination of size distributions revealed that large canopied species were gradually being phased out, and replaced by narrow and medium sized tree species which are easier to maintain, but which may not provide the same environmental and ecological benefits. Greater attention requires to be paid to the selection of trees in cities, not just with a view to easy maintenance as is currently the case, but to select an appropriate mix of trees that supports biodiversity and maximizes environmental and ecosystem services.


Cities Green spaces India Urban biodiversity Urban ecology 



We thank Lionel Sujay, Madhumitha Jaganmohan, Suparsh Nagendran, Vivek Gopal, Vikram Gopal and Bhargava Shastry for assistance with data collection, and Suparsh Nagendran and Somajita Paul for GIS assistance. This research was supported by grants from the International Foundation for Science, the Stockholm Resilience Center, Society in Science, and a Ramanujan Fellowship from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India to HN.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)BangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC)Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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