Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Long-Term Tree Survival and Diversity of Highway Tree Planting Projects

Version 1 : Received: 2 March 2022 / Approved: 4 March 2022 / Online: 4 March 2022 (17:04:27 CET)

How to cite: Salisbury, A.B.; Miesbauer, J.W.; Koeser, A.K. Long-Term Tree Survival and Diversity of Highway Tree Planting Projects. Preprints 2022, 2022030084 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202203.0084.v1). Salisbury, A.B.; Miesbauer, J.W.; Koeser, A.K. Long-Term Tree Survival and Diversity of Highway Tree Planting Projects. Preprints 2022, 2022030084 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202203.0084.v1).

Abstract

Long-term, multi-decade research on planted tree survival in urban settings is sparse. One understudied urban environment is highway rights-of-way (ROW), lands adjacent to high-speed, unsignalized roadways. We conducted a re-inventory of tree planting cohort in northern Illinois, U.S. on a 48 km-long highway near Chicago which were 10-, 21-, and 30-years old to evaluate long-term patterns of survival and diversity. Using each randomly selected planting site along the highway as a unit of observation and analysis, we compared the number of trees documented in record drawing to the number of trees currently alive to determine percent survival. We evaluated 224 planting sites which originally contained 2,944 trees and collected data about the planting site location. For the oldest cohort, 26% of trees were still alive in 2018 (median survival by species = 16%, Q1 = 0%, Q3 = 48%), while 31% of the 21-year-old cohort (med. = 6%, Q1 = 0%, Q3 = 47%) and 86% of the 10-year-old cohort were still alive (med. = 85%, Q1 = 74%, Q3 = 96%). The survival of the 21- and 30-year-old cohort matches urban tree survival estimates by other researchers, while the 10-year-old survival is higher than expected. The only planting location characteristic that significantly affected survival was traffic islands (areas between the highway and entrance/exit ramps). Species with low drought tolerance were less likely to be alive for the 10-year-old cohort. Waterlogging tolerant species were more likely to be alive in the 10-year-old cohort. Since some species in the 21- and 30-year-old cohorts had very low survival, the tree species richness and diversity s in study areas declined between the initial record drawings and reinventory. This study demonstrates the challenges of maintaining long-term survival and diversity in the highway ROW and emphasizes the importance of species selection.

Keywords

drought tolerance; roadside woody vegetation; Simpson diversity; site conditions; tree mortality; tree planting initiatives

Subject

BIOLOGY, Plant Sciences

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