Richard Corlett is a co-author in Hahs et al., 2009. A global synthesis of plant extinction rates in urban areas. Ecology Letters 12, DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01372.x
Abstract – “… We compiled plant extinction rate data for 22 cities around the world. Two-thirds of the variation in plant extinction rates was explained by a combination of the city’s historical development and the current proportion of native vegetation, with the former explaining the greatest variability. As a single variable, the amount of native vegetation remaining also influenced extinction rates, particularly in cities > 200 years old.
Our study demonstrates that the legacies of landscape transformations by agrarian and urban development last for hundreds of years, and modern cities potentially carry a large extinction debt. This finding highlights the importance of preserving native vegetation in urban areas and the need for mitigation to minimize potential plant extinctions in the future.”
BBC is carrying the story: “How cities drive plants extinct,” by Matt Walker. BBC Earth News 08 Oct 2009:
Excerpt – “An international team of botanists has compared extinction rates of plants within 22 cities around the world.
Both Singapore and New York City in the US now contain less than one-tenth of their original vegetation, reveals the analysis published in Ecology Letters.
However, San Diego, US and Durban, South Africa still retain over two-thirds of their original flora.
Both the pace of urban change and how many plants remain in a city are good predictors of whether plant species will survive there in the future, says the report.”