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Web Ecology An open-access peer-reviewed journal
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Volume 18, issue 2 | Copyright
Web Ecol., 18, 121-128, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/we-18-121-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Standard article 29 Aug 2018

Standard article | 29 Aug 2018

The influence of plant species richness on stress recovery of humans

Petra Lindemann-Matthies1,2 and Diethart Matthies3 Petra Lindemann-Matthies and Diethart Matthies
  • 1Institute of Biology, Karlsruhe University of Education, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Ecology, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany

Abstract. Natural sceneries or single plants may have positive influences on human health. Here we show that plant species richness can positively influence recovery from stress. Meadow-like arrays of different species richness (1, 16, 32, 64 species) were presented to visitors (n = 171) of a popular park in Zurich, Switzerland (one array per participant). Participants' systolic blood pressure was measured twice: directly after they had been stressed and once again after a 2min post-stress relaxation period during which they looked at one of either the meadow-like arrangements of plants in pots or at bare ground, shielded on three sides by a tent-like structure. The decrease in blood pressure was larger when respondents could view an arrangement of plants instead of ground without vegetation. Relaxation was strongest at intermediate species richness (32 species). Age, gender, and a person's attachment to nature did not influence relaxation. Our results indicate that species-rich vegetation may contribute to recovery from stress which should be considered in landscape management and planning.

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We studied the influence of plant diversity on recovery from stress. The blood pressure of stressed people decreased more strongly when they were looking at species-rich vegetation instead of bare ground or vegetation consisting of only a few species during relaxation. Our results indicate that species-rich vegetation may contribute to recovery from stress, which should be considered in landscape management and planning.
We studied the influence of plant diversity on recovery from stress. The blood pressure of...
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