Plants in the city: understanding recruitment dynamics in urban landscapes

Max R. Piana, Myla F.J. Aronson, Steward T.A. Pickett, Steven N. Handel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In cities, naturally regenerating plant populations are critical in sustaining both ecological function and ecosystem services. However, scientists have a limited understanding of the urban ecosystem conditions and stressors that influence basic life-history processes and constraints for plant populations. Here, we synthesize current research on the recruitment dynamics of urban plants (processes associated with adding individuals to populations) and present a conceptual framework for urban recruitment limitation. From grasslands to forests, and from natural to constructed habitats, multiple urban drivers – including climate, land-cover change, pollution, and biotic invasions – affect plant recruitment. These drivers often interact, and their effects are frequently species-, habitat-, or region-specific. Furthering a “mechanistic” understanding (one that focuses on the underlying ecological mechanisms of observed phenomena) of how these drivers alter plant population dynamics will improve the conservation, management, and restoration of urban greenspaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-463
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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