Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 741–760 | Cite as

Drivers of plant biodiversity and ecosystem service production in home gardens across the Beijing Municipality of China

  • Lorraine Weller ClarkeEmail author
  • Liangtao Li
  • G. Darrel Jenerette
  • Zhenrong Yu


Home gardens have been recognized as repositories of agricultural biodiversity across the world. The influence of socioeconomics and location-specific factors on urban gardening patterns merits continued study. Using Beijing Municipal Province in China, a rapidly urbanizing region, as a case study, we address two questions: 1) How do biodiversity patterns change between different urbanized regions in Beijing? 2) How do ecosystem services provided by Beijing home gardens change with socioeconomic status and location-based preferences of gardeners? We surveyed 104 home gardens in Beijing Municipal Province for plant biodiversity, abundance, and species ecosystem services (ES) (provisioning or cultural uses). The gardens were distributed across three urbanized regions (suburban, peri-urban, and exurban). We found that species biodiversity and abundance shift according to a hierarchy of need from ornamentals (cultural ES) to edibles (provisioning ES) with increasing distance from Beijing. These trends are related to reduced income, lowered food security, and lack of urban markets in exurban regions. Rarefaction curves indicate ornamental species drive β diversity. Ordination also showed a shift in species composition with increasing isolation from the city; Suburban and exurban gardens were the most different, while peri-urban gardens were similar to both others. Only exurban gardens had a positive relationship between species and area. High edible cover and high species density indicates that demand for edibles in exurban regions may be higher than space constraints allows. Our study better quantifies species biodiversity patterns in Beijing, and can inform urban planners about the value and usefulness of home garden space.


Biodiversity Ecosystem services Species-area relationship Socioeconomics Agriculture Food security 



Travel, lodging, and research support for the first author during the duration of this study was organized by the NSF East Asia Pacific Summer Institute. We thank China Agricultural University for research and funding support in China. For field work and data entry help, we thank the members of the Zhenrong Yu lab, especially Li Xiang for his constant help with plant surveys. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. DEB-0919006 in the U.S.and OISE-1210137 in China and by the Chinese National Research Project under grant 2012BAJ24B05.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorraine Weller Clarke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Liangtao Li
    • 2
  • G. Darrel Jenerette
    • 1
  • Zhenrong Yu
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Botany and Plant SciencesUniversity of California RiversideRiversideUSA
  2. 2.College of Agricultural Resources and Environmental SciencesChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina

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