Functional traits of urban trees: Air pollution mitigation potential

Rüdiger Grote, Roeland Samson, Rocío Alonso, Jorge Humberto Amorim, Paloma Cariñanos, Galina Churkina, Silvano Fares, Didier Le Thiec, Ülo Niinemets, Teis Nørgaard Mikkelsen, Elena Paoletti, Abhishek Tiwary, Carlo Calfapietra

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    In an increasingly urbanized world, air pollution mitigation is considered one of most important issues in city planning. Urban trees help to improve air quality by facilitating widespread deposition of various gases and particles through the provision of large surface areas as well as through their influence on microclimate and air turbulence. However, many of these trees produce wind-dispersed pollen (a known allergen) and emit a range of gaseous substances that take part in photochemical reactions - all of which can negatively affect air quality. The degree to which these air-quality impacts are manifested depends on species-specific tree properties: that is, their "traits". We summarize and discuss the current knowledge on how such traits affect urban air pollution. We also present aggregated traits of some of the most common tree species in Europe, which can be used as a decision-support tool for city planning and for improving urban air-quality models.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
    Issue number10
    Pages (from-to)543-550
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Ecology


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