Questions: How can floristic diversity be evaluated in conservation plans to identify sites of highest interest for biodiversity? What are the mechanisms influencing the distribution of species in human-dominated environments? What are the best criteria to identify sites where active urban management is most likely to enhance floristic diversity?
Location: The Hauts-de-Seine district bordering Paris, France.
Methods: We described the floristic diversity in one of the most urbanized French districts through the inventory of ca. 1000 sites located in 23 habitats. We built a new index of floristic interest (IFI), integrating information on richness, indigeneity, typicality and rarity of species, to identify sites and habitats of highest interest for conservation. Finally, we explored the relationship between site IFI and land use patterns (LUP).
Results: We observed a total of 626 vascular plant species. Habitats with highest IFI were typically situated in semi-natural environments or environments with moderate human impact. We also showed that neighbouring (urban) structures had a significant influence on the floristic interest of sites: for example, the presence of collective dwellings around a site had a strong negative impact on IFI.
Conclusions: Our approach can be used to optimize management in urban zones; we illustrate such possibilities by defining a ‘Site Potential Value’, which was then compared with the observed IFI, to identify areas (e.g. river banks) where better management could improve the district's biodiversity.
Nomenclature: Kerguélen (2003).