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Perceived species-richness in urban green spaces: Cues, accuracy and well-being impacts

Southon, Georgina; Jorgensen, Anna; Dunnett, Nigel; Hoyle, Helen; Evans, Karl


Georgina Southon

Anna Jorgensen

Nigel Dunnett

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Helen Hoyle
Senior Lecturer in Healthy Built Environments

Karl Evans


© 2017 The Authors Evidence that urban green-space promotes health and well-being of urban residents is increasing. The role of biodiversity is unclear: perceived biodiversity may be important, but how accurately it is perceived and the factors influencing this accuracy are poorly understood. We use experimental perennial urban meadows in southern England to investigate the impact of creating biodiverse habitats on green-space users’ i) physical and mental health, psychological well-being, ii) factors moderating health and well-being outcomes (site satisfaction and nature connectedness), and iii) perceived biodiversity. We explore whether ‘nature dose’ (time spent at a site) influences these relationships. We then assess whether green-space users can estimate botanical diversity accurately across meadow treatments differing in plant species richness and vegetation structure, and determine the environmental cues and personal characteristics associated with these estimates. Sites with experimental meadows did not increase respondents’ perceptions of site level biodiversity, their self-rated physical and mental health or psychological well-being relative to control sites lacking meadows. However, there were significant associations between perceived site level biodiversity per se, and site satisfaction and feeling connected to nature. Moreover, we observed a positive association between nature dose and self-estimated mental health. We found that actual and perceived botanical richness in individual meadow plots were strongly positively correlated. Perceived richness was positively associated with vegetation height, evenness, and colourfulness suggesting that these are cues for estimating species richness. The accuracy of estimates varied, but respondents with higher levels of eco-centricity were more accurate than people who were less connected to nature.


Southon, G., Jorgensen, A., Dunnett, N., Hoyle, H., & Evans, K. (2018). Perceived species-richness in urban green spaces: Cues, accuracy and well-being impacts. Landscape and Urban Planning, 172, 1-10.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 7, 2017
Online Publication Date Dec 22, 2017
Publication Date Apr 1, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 2, 2018
Journal Landscape and Urban Planning
Print ISSN 0169-2046
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 172
Pages 1-10
Keywords biodiversity, cultural ecosystem services, urban green-space, nature connectedness, wellbeing
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