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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 46, Issue 1 — January 2020

Street Tree Diversity in Massachusetts, USA

F.D. Cowett and Nina L. Bassuk

Abstract: Pests, disease, and climate change pose major challenges to street tree survival, and diversity in tree species and genera is widely considered to promote the sustainability of municipal street tree populations. Conversely, the lack of sufficient diversity in street tree population was judged a contributing factor in the death and removal of thousands of street trees in Worcester, Massachusetts, that state’s second most populous city, due to an infestation of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB, Anoplophora glabripennis). Therefore, reducing the dominance of prevalent street tree species and genera and increasing tree species and genera diversity are considered vital to sustainable street tree management and to the preservation of the ecosystem services and social benefits that street trees provide. This paper assesses street tree diversity in Massachusetts by analyzing a nonrandom sample of collated municipal street tree inventory data stratified by plant hardiness zones. Consistent with results previously found for Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, results in Massachusetts indicate that a relatively small number of species and genera dominate the composition of most municipal street tree populations, including in particular Acer spp. (maple), one of the ALB’s favorite host genera. There is accordingly a need for greater species and genus diversity in municipal street tree populations statewide. While there may be a trend towards increased street tree diversity and reduction in the dominance of Acer spp., considerable work remains to be done.

Keywords: Street Tree Diversity in Massachusetts, USA

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