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The Role of Urban Structures in the Distribution of Wasteland Flora in the Greater Paris Area, France

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Wastelands are likely to host a significant part of urban floristic diversity but have received limited attention because they are not considered interesting green zones. Here, we explore the potential role of wastelands in maintaining urban biodiversity to help define effective urban management plans. We quantified floristic diversity in 98 wasteland sites of Hauts-de-Seine, one of the most densely populated areas in France, and characterized the environmental parameters and spatial distribution of sites to identify some of the factors that influence plant species composition and to explore the impact of urban environment on the floristic interest of wastelands. Their floristic richness represented 58% of the total richness observed in the whole study area. Site richness depended on site area (the largest sites were the richest) and site age, with a maximum in sites of intermediate age (4–13 years). In the largest sites only (>2,500 m2), the floristic distance among sites was positively correlated with geographic distance, which suggests that migration of species among large sites partly controls local floristic composition. In contrast, the environmental distance among sites was not correlated with floristic distance. Finally, we showed that the presence of collective and individual dwellings within 200 m of a wasteland decreased its floristic rarity, whereas the presence of rivers or ponds increased it. We derive several recommendations to optimize the management of wastelands with respect to conservation of urban biodiversity.

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Funding for this research was provided by the Conseil Général des Hauts-de-Seine. We thank Yoann Faivre for his help on the field, Gérard Arnal, Sébastien Filoche and Fabrice Perriat for their help in plant identification and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Audrey Muratet.

Appendix: abbreviations for land use pattern classes (IAURIF 2003)

Appendix: abbreviations for land use pattern classes (IAURIF 2003)


Land use patterns


Built zones


Activities (Warehouses, Offices, Companies)


Collective dwelling


Facilities (Education, Health, Administration, Cemeteries, Electricity, Gas, Petroleum)


Individual dwelling


Transport (Railways, Highways, Parking lots)



Building sites and vacant urban

Open zones


Open urban areas (Parks, Gardens, Sports, Camping, Golf, Hippodrome) and rural (Truck farmings, horticulture, orchards, breeding grounds, grounds and pits)




Woods and forests

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Muratet, A., Machon, N., Jiguet, F. et al. The Role of Urban Structures in the Distribution of Wasteland Flora in the Greater Paris Area, France. Ecosystems 10, 661–671 (2007).

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