Manipulating plant phylogenetic diversity for green roof ecosystem service delivery

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Authors J. Scott MacIvor, Nicholas Sookhan, Carlos A. Arnillas, Anushree Bhatt, Shameek Das, Simone-Louise E. Yasui, Garland Xie, Marc W. Cadotte
Journal/Conference Name Evolutionary Applications
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Plant species and functional trait diversity have each been shown to improve green roof services. Species and trait differences that contribute to ecosystem services are the product of past evolutionary change and phylogenetic diversity (PD), which quantifies the relatedness among species within a community. In this study, we present an experimental framework to assess the contribution of plant community PD for green roof ecosystem service delivery, and data from one season that support our hypotheses that PD would be positively correlated with two services building cooling and rainwater management. Using 28 plant species in 12 families, we created six community combinations with different levels of PD. Each of these communities was replicated at eight green roofs along an elevation gradient, as well as a ground level control. We found that the minimum and mean roof temperature decreased with increasing PD in the plant community. Increasing PD also led to an increase in the volume of rainwater captured, but not the proportion of water lost via evapotranspiration 48 hr following the rain event. Our findings suggest that considering these evolutionary relationships could improve functioning of green infrastructure and we recommend that understanding how to make PD (and other measures of diversity) serviceable for plant selection by practitioners will improve the effectiveness of design and ecosystem service delivery. Lastly, since no two green roof sites are the same and can vary tremendously in microclimate conditions, our study illustrates the importance of including multiple independent sites in studies of green roof performance.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R
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