Urban ecology within cities can encourage plant growth through less competition for nutrient and light.
(2014) Articles published in the Boston Globe. City trees growing faster than trees in the countryside? How could that be? Extra nitrogen, CO2, heat in the winter, and virtually no competition for light. The emerging science of urban ecology is beginning to inform science as researchers learn about the specific environment of the city. Early work by researchers in Boston is showing that the nitrogen cycle can be used to measure differences in the ecology of the city and countryside. For instance, nitrogen in car exhaust moves from the air into the soil. They also estimate that perhaps half of the carbon and nitrogen in city tree leaves create a “nitrogen hot spot” at the city’s yard waste center. The cycle of removing leaves, the researchers say, causes homeowners to replace the removed nutrients with fertilizer. Urban ecology will inform emerging municipal policy in the areas of green infrastructure–tree and plant cover, composting, and other areas that will affect demand for plants and landscape maintenance.