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Ability of urban trees’ soils to maintain critical ecosystem services

Source: udel.edu

If you’re a tree, country life is much easier than city living. Rural trees — which can live long, productive lives of sometimes more than 100 years — draw on vast resources of an extensive forest network of nearby trees. In urban areas, friendly, neighbouring trees can be few and far between. Heat island effects and variation in nutrient levels leave urban trees more vulnerable to natural environmental pressures. The consequences are depressed growth and an early death.

But underneath the tree lies an ally — soil, which provides the tree a welcome anchor for its roots, nutrients for growth and a vast array of soil microbes. In return, trees modify the soil microbial community (SMC), establishing and nourishing crucial bacterial and fungal life below the surface.

In a research article published in Scientific Reports, University of Delaware researchers investigated the pressures of urbanisation on SMC associated with specific tree species. The research team included UD faculty member Tara Trammell and former postdoctoral research fellow Carl Rosier. MORE

Header image: Former University of Delaware postdoctoral research fellow Carl Rosier poses with 300-year-old American Beech Tree. Credit: University of Delaware.