Matching Items (11)

Land Fragmentation Under Rapid Urbanization: A Cross-Site Analysis of Southwestern Cities

Description

Using National Land Cover Data we analyzed land fragmentation trends from 1992 to 2001 in five southwestern cities associated with Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011-02-11

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Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: A Comparative Study

Description

This project examines a complex issue in urban ecology: the impact of biodiversity on ecosystem services, and considers how this varies across cities. Data were gathered on multiple economic and

This project examines a complex issue in urban ecology: the impact of biodiversity on ecosystem services, and considers how this varies across cities. Data were gathered on multiple economic and ecological parameters for a selection of seven cities around the world and analyzed via multiple linear regression in order to assess any relationships that may be at play. Significance values were then calculated to further define the relationships between the data. Analysis found that both biophysical and socioeconomic factors affected ecosystem services, although not all hypotheses regarding these relationships were met. Conclusions indicate that this model was fairly effective in describing physical drivers of ecosystem services, but were not as clear regarding social drivers. Further study regarding social parameters' effect on ecosystem services is recommended.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014-05

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Investigating the influence of food on reproductive physiology and gonad growth: urbanization as a natural experiment

Description

For animals that experience annual cycles of gonad development, the seasonal timing (phenology) of gonad growth is a major adaptation to local environmental conditions. To optimally time seasonal gonad growth,

For animals that experience annual cycles of gonad development, the seasonal timing (phenology) of gonad growth is a major adaptation to local environmental conditions. To optimally time seasonal gonad growth, animals use environmental cues that forecast future conditions. The availability of food is one such environmental cue. Although the importance of food availability has been appreciated for decades, the physiological mechanisms underlying the modulation of seasonal gonad growth by this environmental factor remain poorly understood.

Urbanization is characterized by profound environmental changes, and urban animals must adjust to an environment vastly different from that of their non-urban conspecifics. Evidence suggests that birds adjust to urban areas by advancing the timing of seasonal breeding and gonad development, compared to their non-urban conspecifics. A leading hypothesis to account for this phenomenon is that food availability is elevated in urban areas, which improves the energetic status of urban birds and enables them to initiate gonad development earlier than their non-urban conspecifics. However, this hypothesis remains largely untested.

My dissertation dovetailed comparative studies and experimental approaches conducted in field and captive settings to examine the physiological mechanisms by which food availability modulates gonad growth and to investigate whether elevated food availability in urban areas advances the phenology of gonad growth in urban birds. My captive study demonstrated that energetic status modulates reproductive hormone secretion, but not gonad growth. By contrast, free-ranging urban and non-urban birds did not differ in energetic status or plasma levels of reproductive hormones either in years in which urban birds had advanced phenology of gonad growth or in a year that had no habitat-related disparity in seasonal gonad growth. Therefore, my dissertation provides no support for the hypothesis that urban birds begin seasonal gonad growth because they are in better energetic status and increase the secretion of reproductive hormones earlier than non-urban birds. My studies do suggest, however, that the phenology of key food items and the endocrine responsiveness of the reproductive system may contribute to habitat-related disparities in the phenology of gonad growth.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Ecology and the city: a long-term social-ecological examination of the drivers and diversity of urban vegetation

Description

Often, when thinking of cities we envision designed landscapes, where people regulate everything from water to weeds, ultimately resulting in an ecosystem decoupled from biophysical processes. It is unclear, however,

Often, when thinking of cities we envision designed landscapes, where people regulate everything from water to weeds, ultimately resulting in an ecosystem decoupled from biophysical processes. It is unclear, however, what happens when the people regulating these extensively managed landscapes come under stress, whether from unexpected economic fluctuations or from changing climate norms. The overarching question of my dissertation research was: How does urban vegetation change in response to human behavior? To answer this question, I conducted multiscale research in an arid urban ecosystem as well as in a virtual desert city. I used a combination of long-term data and agent-based modeling to examine changes in vegetation across a range of measures influenced by biophysical, climate, institutional, and socioeconomic drivers. At the regional scale, total plant species diversity increased from 2000 to 2010, while species composition became increasingly homogeneous in urban and agricultural areas. At the residential scale, I investigated the effects of biophysical and socioeconomic drivers – the Great Recession of 2007-2010 in particular – on changing residential yard vegetation in Phoenix, AZ. Socioeconomic drivers affected plant composition and increasing richness, but the housing boom from 2000 through 2005 had a stronger influence on vegetation change than the subsequent recession. Surprisingly, annual plant species remained coupled to winter precipitation despite my expectation that their dynamics might be driven by socioeconomic fluctuations. In a modeling experiment, I examined the relative strength of psychological, social, and governance influences on large-scale urban land cover in a desert city. Model results suggested that social norms may be strong enough to lead to large-scale conversion to low water use residential landscaping, and governance may be unnecessary to catalyze residential landscape conversion under the pressure of extreme drought conditions. Overall, my dissertation research showed that urban vegetation is dynamic, even under the presumably stabilizing influence of human management activities. Increasing climate pressure, unexpected socioeconomic disturbances, growing urban populations, and shifting policies all contribute to urban vegetation dynamics. Incorporating these findings into planning policies will contribute to the sustainable management of urban ecosystems.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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The phyllosphere of Phoenix's urban forest: insights from a publicly-funded microbial environment

Description

The aboveground surfaces of plants (i.e. the phyllosphere) comprise the largest biological interface on Earth (over 108 km2). The phyllosphere is a diverse microbial environment where bacterial inhabitants have been

The aboveground surfaces of plants (i.e. the phyllosphere) comprise the largest biological interface on Earth (over 108 km2). The phyllosphere is a diverse microbial environment where bacterial inhabitants have been shown to sequester and degrade airborne pollutants (i.e. phylloremediation). However, phyllosphere dynamics are not well understood in urban environments, and this environment has never been studied in the City of Phoenix, which maintains roughly 92,000 city trees. The phyllosphere will grow if the City of Phoenix is able to achieve its goal of 25% canopy coverage by 2030, but this begs the question: How and where should the urban canopy expand? I addressed this question from a phyllosphere perspective by sampling city trees of two species, Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese Elm) and Dalbergia sissoo (Indian Rosewood) in parks and on roadsides. I identified characteristics of the bacterial community structure and interpreted the ecosystem service potential of trees in these two settings. I used culture-independent methods to compare the abundance of each unique bacterial lineage (i.e. ontological taxonomic units or OTUs) on the leaves of park trees versus on roadside tree leaves. I found numerous bacteria (81 OTUs) that were significantly more abundant on park trees than on roadside trees. Many of these OTUs are ubiquitous to bacterial phyllosphere communities, are known to promote the health of the host tree, or have been shown to degrade airborne pollutants. Roadside trees had fewer bacteria (10 OTUs) that were significantly more abundant when compared to park trees, but several have been linked to the remediation of petroleum combustion by-products. These findings, that were not available prior to this study, may inform the City of Phoenix as it is designing its future urban forests.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Designing and implementing ecological monitoring of aridland urban ecological infrastructure (UEI): a case-study of design process and outcomes

Description

Cities are increasingly using nature-based approaches to address urban sustainability challenges. These solutions leverage the ecological processes associated with existing or newly constructed Urban Ecological Infrastructure (UEI) to address issues

Cities are increasingly using nature-based approaches to address urban sustainability challenges. These solutions leverage the ecological processes associated with existing or newly constructed Urban Ecological Infrastructure (UEI) to address issues through ecosystem services (e.g. stormwater retention or treatment). The growing use of UEI to address urban sustainability challenges can bring together teams of urban researchers and practitioners to co-produce UEI design, monitoring and maintenance. However, this co-production process received little attention in the literature, and has not been studied in the Phoenix Metro Area.

I examined several components of a co-produced design process and related project outcomes associated with a small-scale UEI project – bioswales installed at the Arizona State University (ASU) Orange Mall and Student Pavilion in Tempe, AZ. Specifically, I explored the social design process and ecohydrological and biogeochemical outcomes associated with development of an ecohydrological monitoring protocol for assessing post-construction landscape performance of this site. The monitoring protocol design process was documented using participant observation of collaborative project meetings, and semi-structured interviews with key researchers and practitioners. Throughout this process, I worked together with researchers and practitioners to co-produced a suite of ecohydrological metrics to monitor the performance of the bioswales (UEI) constructed at Orange Mall, with an emphasis on understanding stormwater dynamics. I then installed and operated monitoring equipment from Summer 2018 to Spring 2019 to generate data that can be used to assess system performance with respect to the co-identified performance metrics.

The co-production experience resulted in observable change in attitudes both at the individual and institutional level with regards to the integration and use of urban ecological research to assess and improve UEI design. My ecological monitoring demonstrated that system performance met design goals with regards to stormwater capture, and water quality data suggest the system’s current design has some capacity for stormwater treatment. These data and results are being used by practitioners at ASU and their related design partners to inform future design and management of UEI across the ASU campus. More broadly, this research will provide insights into improving the monitoring, evaluation, and performance efficacy associated with collaborative stormwater UEI projects, independent of scale, in arid cities.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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Phosphorus cycling in Metropolitan Phoenix

Description

Phosphorus (P), an essential element for life, is becoming increasingly scarce, and its global management presents a serious challenge. As urban environments dominate the landscape, we need to elucidate how

Phosphorus (P), an essential element for life, is becoming increasingly scarce, and its global management presents a serious challenge. As urban environments dominate the landscape, we need to elucidate how P cycles in urban ecosystems to better understand how cities contribute to — and provide opportunities to solve — problems of P management. The goal of my research was to increase our understanding of urban P cycling in the context of urban resource management through analysis of existing ecological and socio-economic data supplemented with expert interviews in order to facilitate a transition to sustainable P management. Study objectives were to: I) Quantify and map P stocks and flows in the Phoenix metropolitan area and analyze the drivers of spatial distribution and dynamics of P flows; II) examine changes in P-flow dynamics at the urban agricultural interface (UAI), and the drivers of those changes, between 1978 and 2008; III) compare the UAI's average annual P budget to the global agricultural P budget; and IV) explore opportunities for more sustainable P management in Phoenix. Results showed that Phoenix is a sink for P, and that agriculture played a primary role in the dynamics of P cycling. Internal P dynamics at the UAI shifted over the 30-year study period, with alfalfa replacing cotton as the main locus of agricultural P cycling. Results also suggest that the extent of P recycling in Phoenix is proportionally larger than comparable estimates available at the global scale due to the biophysical characteristics of the region and the proximity of various land uses. Uncertainty remains about the effectiveness of current recycling strategies and about best management strategies for the future because we do not have sufficient data to use as basis for evaluation and decision-making. By working in collaboration with practitioners, researchers can overcome some of these data limitations to develop a deeper understanding of the complexities of P dynamics and the range of options available to sustainably manage P. There is also a need to better connect P management with that of other resources, notably water and other nutrients, in order to sustainably manage cities.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Personality in the City: Relationship Between Animal Behavioral Traits And Urbanization in a Fragile, Human-impacted Desert Ecosystem

Description

Human-inhabited or -disturbed areas pose many unique challenges for wildlife, including increased human exposure, novel challenges, such as finding food or nesting sites in novel structures, anthropogenic noises, and novel

Human-inhabited or -disturbed areas pose many unique challenges for wildlife, including increased human exposure, novel challenges, such as finding food or nesting sites in novel structures, anthropogenic noises, and novel predators. Animals inhabiting these environments must adapt to such changes by learning to exploit new resources and avoid danger. To my knowledge no study has comprehensively assessed behavioral reactions of urban and rural populations to numerous novel environmental stimuli. I tested behavioral responses of urban, suburban, and rural house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) to novel stimuli (e.g. objects, noises, food), to presentation of a native predator model (Accipiter striatus) and a human, and to two problem-solving challenges (escaping confinement and food-finding). Although I found few population-level differences in behavioral responses to novel objects, environment, and food, I found compelling differences in how finches from different sites responded to novel noise. When played a novel sound (whale call or ship horn), urban and suburban house finches approached their food source more quickly and spent more time on it than rural birds, and urban and suburban birds were more active during the whale-noise presentation. In addition, while there were no differences in response to the native predator, rural birds showed higher levels of stress behaviors when presented with a human. When I replicated this study in juveniles, I found that exposure to humans during development more accurately predicted behavioral differences than capture site. Finally, I found that urban birds were better at solving an escape problem, whereas rural birds were better at solving a food-finding challenge. These results indicate that not all anthropogenic changes affect animal populations equally and that determining the aversive natural-history conditions and challenges of taxa may help urban ecologists better understand the direction and degree to which animals respond to human-induced rapid environmental alterations.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Plasticity of the red hourglass in female western black widow spiders (Latrodectus hesperus): urban ecological variation, condition-dependence, and adaptive function

Description

Urbanization provides an excellent opportunity to examine the effects of human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC) on natural ecosystems. Certain species can dominate in urban habitats at the expense of biodiversity.

Urbanization provides an excellent opportunity to examine the effects of human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC) on natural ecosystems. Certain species can dominate in urban habitats at the expense of biodiversity. Phenotypic plasticity may be the mechanism by which these 'urban exploiters' flourish in urban areas. Color displays and condition-dependent phenotypes are known to be highly plastic. However, conspicuous color displays are perplexing in that they can be costly to produce and may increase detection by enemies. The Western black widow spider () is a superabundant pest species that forms dense aggregations throughout metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Adult female display a red hourglass on their abdomen, which is speculated to function as a conspicuous warning signal to enemies. Here, I performed field studies to identify how widow morphology and hourglass color differ between urban and desert subpopulations. I also conducted laboratory experiments to examine the dietary sensitivity of hourglass coloration and to identify its functional role in the contexts of agonism, mating, and predator defense. My field data reveal significant spatial variation across urban and desert subpopulations in ecology and color. Furthermore, hourglass coloration was significantly influenced by environmental factors unique to urban habitats. Desert spiders were found to be smaller and less colorful than urban spiders. Throughout, I observed a positive correlation between body condition and hourglass size. Laboratory diet manipulations empirically confirm the condition-dependence of hourglass size. Additionally, widows with extreme body conditions exhibited condition-dependent coloration. However, hourglass obstruction and enlargement did not produce any effects on the outcome of agonistic encounters, male courtship, or predator deterrence. This work offers important insights into the effects of urbanization on the ecology and coloration of a superabundant pest species. While the function of the hourglass remains undetermined, my findings characterize the black widow's hourglass as extremely plastic. Plastic responses to novel environmental conditions can modify the targets of natural selection and subsequently influence evolutionary outcomes. Therefore, assuming a heritable component to this plasticity, the response of hourglass plasticity to the abrupt environmental changes in urban habitats may result in the rapid evolution of this phenotype.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Planning for Urban Ecosystem Services: Generating Actionable Knowledge for Reducing Environmental Inequities in Santiago de Chile

Description

Cities are hubs for economic and social development, but they are increasingly becoming hotspots of environmental problems and socio-economic inequalities. Because cities result from complex interactions among ecological, social and

Cities are hubs for economic and social development, but they are increasingly becoming hotspots of environmental problems and socio-economic inequalities. Because cities result from complex interactions among ecological, social and economic factors, environmental problems and socio-economic inequalities are often spatially interconnected, generating emergent environmental inequity issues due to the unfair distribution of environmental quality among socioeconomic groups. Since urban environmental quality is tightly related to the capacity of urban landscapes to provide ecosystem services, optimizing the allocation of ecosystem services within cities is a main goal for moving towards more equitable and sustainable cities. Nevertheless, we often lack the empirical data and specific methods for planning urban landscapes to optimize the provision of ecosystem services. Therefore, the development of knowledge and methods to optimize the provision of ecosystem services is essential for tackling urban environmental problems, reducing environmental inequities, and promoting sustainable cities. The main goal of this dissertation is to generate actionable knowledge for helping decision-makers to optimize the allocation of urban vegetation for reducing environmental inequities through the provision of ecosystem services. The research uses the city of Santiago de Chile as a case study from a Latin-American city. To achieve this goal, I framed my dissertation in four linked research chapters, each of them providing methodological approaches to help link environmental inequity problems with the development of urban planning interventions promoting an equitable provision of urban ecosystem services. These chapters are specifically aimed at providing actionable knowledge for: (1) Identifying the level, distribution, and spatial scales at which environmental inequities are more relevant; (2) Identifying the areas and administrative units where environmental inequities interventions should be prioritized; (3) Identifying optimal areas to allocate vegetation for increasing the provision of urban ecosystem services; (4) Evaluating the role that planned urban vegetation may have in the long-term provision of ecosystem services by natural remnants within the urban landscape. Thus, this dissertation contributes to urban sustainability science by proposing methods and frameworks to address urban environmental inequities through the provision of ecosystem services, but it also provides place-based information that can be readily used for planning urban vegetation in Santiago.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017