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Plant species composition in green spaces within the built-up areas of Beijing, China


Plant species composition is a critical issue in ecological research. Studies on the characteristics of plant species composition in the built-up areas, however, are hampered by a lack of basic field-based investigation. In this article, the plant species composition in the built-up areas of Beijing, China, is investigated using abundant field observations. The origin of species, chorological spectra, life forms and plant communities were determined. The characteristic species in each type of green space were determined by k-means classification, and urban plant communities were identified by two-way indicator species analysis (TWINSPAN). Plant species composition in the built-up areas was further compared with that in natural mountain floras in Beijing to reveal the differences in life form composition and chorological spectra, and the coincidence of species in the two communities. A total of 618 plant species belonging to 349 genera and 103 families were identified. Our results revealed wide chorological spectra with trees dominated by deciduous species. Although native plant species were widely distributed, 53% of the plant species were aliens, among which 67% were introduced from America and other Asian countries. Furthermore, the characteristics of the plant species composition in the built-up areas are significantly different from those of the natural habitats. Our results highlight the dramatic changes in characteristics of plant species composition in the built-up area of Beijing. Several suggestions are proposed to increase the diversity of native species through the planning and management of green spaces.

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This study was supported by the Project of Knowledge Innovation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for research into the urban ecosystem mechanisms of Beijing (KZCX3-SW-424), the National Key Technology Research and Development Program in the 11th Five-year Plan of China (2007BAC28B01), and the Beijing Special Finance Investment on the Construction of Public Education Platform for the Security of Environment and Ecosystem of the Capital. Many thanks are due to the dedicated members of our group from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Forestry University for their assistance in the field investigation. Also, we are very much indebted to Elise Tulloss at University of California, Davis, whose careful review has greatly improved the language of the manuscript, and Prof. Duanzheng Lu, Prof. Quanru Liu, and Dr. Shunli Yu whose instructions in plant species identification were quite important for the vegetation investigation. Finally, we are extremely grateful for the anonymous reviewers, and editors for constructive comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Zhiyun Ouyang.

Additional information

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11258-009-9718-9



See Tables 2, 3 and 4.

Table 2 Dominant species of trees, shrubs and herbs in different types of green spaces in the built-up areas of Beijing
Table 3 The chorological spectra of urban plant species in Beijing
Table 4 Classification of plant communities in different types of green spaces in the built-up areas of Beijing obtained from TWINSPAN analysis (Green space type: I Park, II Protection, III Institutional, IV Residential, V Street, VI Vacant land)

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Zhao, J., Ouyang, Z., Zheng, H. et al. Plant species composition in green spaces within the built-up areas of Beijing, China. Plant Ecol 209, 189–204 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-009-9675-3

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  • Urban greening
  • Urban ecology
  • Species origin
  • Chorological spectra
  • Life form
  • Plant community