About this Research Topic
No ecosystems anywhere on Earth - rural and urban - will be spared the influence of 21st-century climate change. Regardless of the efforts humans may make to try to slow the change, the global climate is committed, by our past and current actions, to a path of uncertain new atmospheric circumstances. Some ecosystems may experience relief from climatic stresses such as droughts, but the overwhelming majority of ecosystems will experience a troubled future.
This collection of articles addresses the major prominent plants in most urban areas: the trees. We know that trees in towns and cities face novel challenges compared to their natural woodland counterparts: harsh and limited soil environments; higher levels of air, water, and soil pollution; vandalism and mechanical damage; unwelcome interactions with built infrastructure; and unfavorable microclimatic conditions, among others. A key uncertainty in this regard is whether nurseries, which are the source of virtually all planting stock for urban ecosystems, are breeding and developing stock for enhanced resilience to a changing climate.
Trees exist in diverse circumstances in urban ecosystems - for example, sometimes they occur singly in a private backyard, sometimes in rows along streets, and sometimes even in naturalized woodlands that resemble hinterland forests. All urban trees will be subject to any climate changes that befall a town or city, and they all need attention in terms of advancements in knowledge about their resilience in a dynamic atmospheric environment.
Resilience - it is a key concept for securing a sustainable future for trees in urban ecosystems, especially in these times of an uncertain future climate. It focuses on the capacity of trees and urban ecosystems to cope with, adapt to, and perhaps even take the opportunity of changing future climatic conditions. In this article collection, we seek contributions from scholars and practitioners that will help the global urban-forest community understand better how to secure a promising future for urban trees in a changing climate. To be clear, we are not soliciting papers telling how trees influence the urban, regional, and global climates - as important as those influences are - but rather papers that address how climatic change will further stress trees in towns and cities and how urban foresters might anticipate such stresses and adjust their management strategies to increase urban-forest resilience in this profoundly uncertain circumstance.
To be more specific, we seek manuscripts from researchers and urban-forest practitioners that:
- reveal new understandings about how urban trees in all configurations could be affected positively or negatively - by changes in the global climate, especially in the context of expected changes in the complexion of urban grey infrastructure; and
- posit management strategies for urban trees that show promise in enhancing their resilience in the face of climatic change and urban developments.
We welcome papers that:
(a) report on contemporary empirical research about how urban trees are responding to climatic change, including ecophysiological adaptations;
(b) report on research that models the expected future responses of urban trees to a changing climate;
(c) review the extant literature on climatic influences on the dynamics of urban trees; and
(d) explore alternative urban-tree management strategies and point to the most promising avenues for urban-forest managers to improve the resilience of urban trees through the 21st century.
Keywords: urban trees, climate change, resilience, urban-forest management, uncertainty
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.