As part of a larger survey of biodiversity in gardens in Sheffield, UK, we examined the composition and diversity of the flora in two 1-m2 quadrats in each of 60 gardens, and compared this with floristic data from semi-natural habitats in central England and derelict urban land in Birmingham, UK. Garden quadrats contained more than twice as many taxa as those from any other habitat type. Ca. 33 % of garden plants were natives and 67 % aliens, mainly from Europe and Asia. A higher proportion of garden aliens originated from Asia and New Zealand than in the UK alien flora as a whole; 18 of the 20 most frequent plants in garden quadrats were natives, mostly common weeds. Garden quadrats showed no evidence of ‘nestedness’, i.e. a tendency for scarce species to be confined to the highest diversity quadrats. Conversely, species in all semi-natural and derelict land data sets were significantly nested. Compared to a range of semi-natural habitats, species richness of garden quadrats was intermediate, and strikingly similar to the richness of derelict land quadrats. Although species accumulation curves for all other habitats showed signs of saturation at 120 quadrats, gardens did not. Correlations between Sørensen similarity index and physical distance were insignificant for all habitat types, i.e. there was little evidence that physical distance played any part in structuring the composition of the quadrats in any of the data sets. However, garden quadrats were much less similar to each other than quadrats from semi-natural habitats or derelict land.
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Vol. 14 • No. 1