Site: Central Arizona - Phoenix LTER
In the Phoenix metropolitan area neighborhoods there are three popular types of landscaping, (1) mesic, consisting of lawn and trees, (2) xeric, consisting of desert- and drought-adapted plants, and (3) oasis, landscaping that combines the grassy swaths of mesic and desert plants of xeric. ARC LTER researchers found that after the socioeconomic stress of the Great Recession, plant species richness of residential yards increased (LEFT) due to a surge in weedy annual species, which corresponded with a simultaneous increase in homogeneity (RIGHT) of residential plant communities. Credit: Julie Ripplinger

Widespread loss of management (irrigation, weeding, planting, fertilizing) occurred when people were forced to leave their homes, driving an increase in post-recession plant species richness and community homogeneity as abandoned yards were taken over by weedy annual species.