Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science In Environmental Science Degree


Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Mueller, Kevin E.

Second Advisor

Dr. Emily Rauschert

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas W. Hilde


Compared to their natural counterparts, trees in urban ecosystems experience distinctive environmental conditions which can be both beneficial and harmful to tree functions and fitness. Thus, the morphological, phenological, and physiological functions of trees in urban ecosystems can be unique and might not be predictable from patterns identified in natural forests where most research on tree ecology has occurred. To better understand how different tree species contribute to ecosystem services in urban environments, we estimated a number of key performance metrics and functional traits for species commonly planted in urban areas. Between April of 2017 and December of 2019, we monitored 42 species of trees across two sites growing in open, urban settings. Radial growth of each individual was measured weekly from April to December using dendrometer bands. Leaf phenology was assessed weekly during leaf development and senescence. Wood phenology was estimated using the RDendrom package in R. Annual C sequestration was estimated using radial growth data, allometric equations (Urban Tree Database), and species-specific wood density and stem C% estimates (TRY database). We also measured several important anatomical, morphological, physiological, and phenological traits. In 2019, we measured a number of canopy characteristics on a smaller subset of individuals (n=137) across 38 species. Lastly, we measured a number of potentially important abiotic covariates, including soil texture, soil pH, canopy light availability, and various topographic variables. v We found evidence that performance metrics (basal area growth), canopy characteristics, and functional traits varied significantly among the species in our study. Moreover, the performance metrics and traits which are directly linked to specific ecosystem services, such as aboveground carbon sequestration and drip line leaf area index, also varied significantly among the species in our study. This suggests that particular species can be selected in order to maximize those ecosystem services which are in high demand in a given urban environment. Lastly, we found that all performance metrics were strongly related to specific groups of functional traits, suggesting that species can also be selected to provide ecosystem services based upon their individual trait phenotypes.

Included in

Biology Commons