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Conserving rare plants in locally-protected urban forest fragments: A case study from Miami-Dade County, Florida

Diamond, Joshua M., Heinen, Joel T.
Urban forestry & urban greening 2016 v.20 pp. 1-11
case studies, databases, ecosystems, habitat fragmentation, hardwood, inventories, landscapes, plants (botany), population size, rare species, risk, upland forests, urban forests, Florida
We consider Miami-Dade County’s Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) network of preserves as a means to conserve rare plant species in urban and suburban forest fragments. In this rapidly urbanizing landscape, upland forests are at particularly high risk of development. We examined the number of rare plant species present in preserves based on the site area, ecosystem type and management practices using the EEL database maintained by the county and a database of plant species inventories collected by the Institute for Regional Conservation. About 99% of the area of the EEL system is located in southern Miami-Dade. Pine rockland forests are primarily in the outer suburbs of the county where fire can be used most effectively for management. Hardwood hammock forests are distributed throughout the county including within the urban core. All 56 EEL forested sites under study contained at least one rare plant species. Small sites often contained high numbers of rare species per unit area, but presumably at lower population sizes. The type of upland forest was not related to the mean richness of rare or state-listed plant species. Public access was not related to the mean richness of rare plants, but was negatively associated with the richness of state-listed plant species.