Landscape and Host Attributes are Related to Mistletoe Load and Prevalence in Neotropical Urban Areas
31 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2022
Mistletoes are hemiparasitic plants from the Santalales order that commonly grow on aerial branches of host trees. They occur in tropical and temperate ecosystems all over the world. In urban areas mistletoes can become weedy and affect the health of cultivated trees. We examined the presence of these hemiparasitic plants in an urban setting and analyzed the factors involved in the infestation patterns. Field studies were performed in Fortaleza, one of the largest cities in Brazil. The trees and their mistletoes were surveyed in four green areas to examine the relationship between their presence (prevalence and severity) and host variables (trunk diameter, relative abundance, nativeness, and distance to the nearest infested host). We also gathered data from published studies in other cities of the Neotropical region to evaluate the relationships between prevalence and five urban landscape attributes (species richness, % of exotic trees, latitude, rainfall, and tree density). We used the Generalized Linear Mixed Model approach. Our analyses resulted in statistically significant models that were capable of explaining the relationships between all host attributes and both mistletoe indicators (prevalence and severity). We also obtained significant models for the relationship between prevalence and two landscape attributes: tree species richness and % of exotic trees. Our findings show that mistletoe infestations in urban environment may be jointly driven by a number of factors that have been isolatedly analyzed in previous studies. Based on our results, a higher diversity of trees and the moderate usage of exotic trees may help avoid overspreading of mistletoes in urban environments.
Keywords: biodiversity, city, green area, tree, hemiparasite
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation