Testing urban tree performance under drier and hotter climates of the future
Dr. Paul Rymer, Professor Mark Tjoelker, Dr. Renee Marchin, Professor Stefan Arndt (UMelb)
Urban areas are continuously expanding across the globe. Urban forests provide various ecosystem and health benefits to the urban dwellers. However, ongoing climate change and its associated extreme events (i.e., drought, heatwaves) are contributing to the failure of urban trees with important implications for human health and future livability. Therefore, it is critical to determine which tree species are better suited to future climates in urban environments. My PhD research focuses on better understand urban tree responses and associated shifts in functional traits to different growing conditions and drought measured in major cities, common garden and glasshouse experiments.
Climate niche is extensively used in predicting species distributions and vulnerability to climate change. However, little is known about how climate niche determines the growth and functional traits of trees in urban environments. Urban trees come from a diverse range of climate origins, species may be native or exotic, and planted within or outside their natural climate range in cities with different climates. Thus, urban forests offer the opportunity to test if the species’ climate niche predicts tree performance and functional traits. In addition, investigating commonly planted urban tree species in common gardens and manipulative glasshouse experiments with a more controlled environmental conditions can provide a more mechanistic understanding of growth and functional trait responses to climate. Therefore, the overarching objective of my thesis is to explore the growth, survival, and trait responses of species to different temperatures and water regimes. The outcomes will inform species selection and urban management to support resilient green cities into the future.
My PhD thesis will have the following components:
- investigating the growth performance and functional traits shifts of urban trees planted in cities with contrasting climates in Australia.
Images: Urban tree sample collection and processing
- testing climate niche predictions of performance, tolerance, and plasticity in a diverse range of native and non-native urban tree species in common garden experiments.
Images: Urban Forest Experiments in Hawkesbury and Hume
- explores the growth and trait responses of a range of urban tree species to different temperatures and water regimes in a glasshouse experiment.
Images: Glasshouse drought experiment