Author

Jenny Todd

Date of Award

3-2014

Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

M.S.

Keywords

Denver, Colorado, Ailanthus altissima, reduces biodiversity, distribution and abundance of Ailanthus, GPS

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Steve Hick

Abstract

Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle, also known as Tree of Heaven, is a non-native tree found throughout North America. The competitive advantages of Ailanthus make it a formidable invader that reduces biodiversity, especially in urban environments. In these areas, Ailanthus can cause structural damage to buildings, pavement, and other infrastructure such as plumbing. Although Ailanthus can commonly be observed throughout neighborhoods of Denver, Colorado, its prevalence and frequency are not well documented. The purpose of this study was to determine the distribution and abundance of Ailanthus among selected urban, residential areas and parks within the City of Denver. This was accomplished by surveying neighborhoods using GPS equipment and documenting occurrences. Specifically, this study focused on the adjoining neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park, Country Club, Speer, and Washington Park. The data collected during this study provides an understanding of where current populations of this weedy species exist in these neighborhoods, and suggests that Ailanthus is spreading at an alarming rate. This study aligns with the city’s current agenda of preserving that quality of the canopy and can assist foresters to further investigate and manage Ailanthus in Denver.

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