Matching Items (17)

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Crafting sustainability visions: integrating visioning practice, research, and education

Description

Sustainability visioning (i.e. the construction of sustainable future states) is considered an important component of sustainability research, for instance, in transformational sustainability science or in planning for urban sustainability. Visioning frees sustainability research from the dominant focus on analyzing problem

Sustainability visioning (i.e. the construction of sustainable future states) is considered an important component of sustainability research, for instance, in transformational sustainability science or in planning for urban sustainability. Visioning frees sustainability research from the dominant focus on analyzing problem constellations and opens it towards positive contributions to social innovation and transformation. Calls are repeatedly made for visions that can guide us towards sustainable futures. Scattered across a broad range of fields (i.e. business, non-government organization, land-use management, natural resource management, sustainability science, urban and regional planning) are an abundance of visioning studies. However, among the few evaluative studies in the literature there are apparent deficits in both the research and practice of visioning that curtails our expectations and prospects of realizing process-based and product-derived outcomes. These deficits suggests that calls instead should focus on the development of applied and theoretical understanding of crafting sustainability visions, enhancing the rigor and robustness of visioning methodology, and on integrating practice, research, and education for collaborative sustainability visioning. From an analysis of prominent visioning and sustainability visioning studies in the literature, this dissertation articulates what is sustainability visioning and synthesizes a conceptual framework for criteria-based design and evaluation of sustainability visioning studies. While current visioning methodologies comply with some of these guidelines, none adhere to all of them. From this research, a novel sustainability visioning methodology is designed to address this gap to craft visions that are shared, systemic, principles-based, action-oriented, relevant, and creative (i.e. SPARC visioning methodology) and evaluated across all quality criteria. Empirical studies were conducted to test and apply the conceptual and methodological frameworks -- with an emphasis on enhancing the rigor and robustness in real world visioning processes for urban planning and teaching sustainability competencies. In-depth descriptions of the collaborative visioning studies demonstrate tangible outcomes for: (a) implementing the above sustainability visioning methodology, including evaluative procedures; (b) adopting meaningful interactive engagement procedures; (c) integrating advanced analytical modeling, sustainability appraisal, and creativity enhancing procedures; and (d) developing perspective and methodological capacity for long-range sustainability planning.

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Created

Date Created
2013

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Attitudes towards ecosystem services in urban riparian parks

Description

Urban sustainability is a critical component of sustainable human societies. Urban riparian parks are used here as a case study seeking to understand the social-ecological relationships between the subjective evaluation of ecosystem services and the vision and management of one

Urban sustainability is a critical component of sustainable human societies. Urban riparian parks are used here as a case study seeking to understand the social-ecological relationships between the subjective evaluation of ecosystem services and the vision and management of one kind of green infrastructure. This study explored attitudes towards ecosystem services, asking whether 1) the tripartite model is an effective framing to measure attitudes towards ecosystem services; 2) what the attitudes towards ecosystem services are and whether they differ between two types of park space; and 3) what the relationship is between management and the attitudinal assessment of ecosystem services by park users. A questionnaire was administered to 104 urban riparian park users in Phoenix, AZ evaluating their attitudes towards refugia, aesthetics, microclimate and stormwater regulation, and recreational and educational opportunities. The operationalization of the tripartite model was validated and found reliable, but may not be the whole story in determining attitudes towards ecosystem services. All components of attitude were positive, but attitudes were stronger in a habitat rehabilitation area with densely planted native species and low flows, than in a more classic park with mowed lawns and scattered vegetation, a mix of native and non-native species, and open water. Park users were more positive towards refugia, stormwater regulation, recreation, and educational opportunities in the habitat rehabilitation area. On the other hand, microclimate regulation and aesthetic qualities were valued similarly between the two parks. Most attitudes supported management goals, however park users valued stormwater regulation less than managers. Qualitative answers suggest that the quality of human interactions differ between the parks and park users consider both elements of society and the physical environment in their subjective evaluations. These findings reveal that park users highly value ecosystem services and that park design and management mediates social-ecological relationships, which should at least underlie the context of economic discussions of service value. This study supports the provision of ecosystem services through green infrastructure and suggests that an integration of park designs throughout urban areas could provide both necessary services as well as expand the platform for social-ecological interactions.

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Date Created
2012

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The ecology of the plankton communities of two desert reservoirs

Description

In 2010, a monthly sampling regimen was established to examine ecological differences in Saguaro Lake and Lake Pleasant, two Central Arizona reservoirs. Lake Pleasant is relatively deep and clear, while Saguaro Lake is relatively shallow and turbid. Preliminary results indicated

In 2010, a monthly sampling regimen was established to examine ecological differences in Saguaro Lake and Lake Pleasant, two Central Arizona reservoirs. Lake Pleasant is relatively deep and clear, while Saguaro Lake is relatively shallow and turbid. Preliminary results indicated that phytoplankton biomass was greater by an order of magnitude in Saguaro Lake, and that community structure differed. The purpose of this investigation was to determine why the reservoirs are different, and focused on physical characteristics of the water column, nutrient concentration, community structure of phytoplankton and zooplankton, and trophic cascades induced by fish populations. I formulated the following hypotheses: 1) Top-down control varies between the two reservoirs. The presence of piscivore fish in Lake Pleasant results in high grazer and low primary producer biomass through trophic cascades. Conversely, Saguaro Lake is controlled from the bottom-up. This hypothesis was tested through monthly analysis of zooplankton and phytoplankton communities in each reservoir. Analyses of the nutritional value of phytoplankton and DNA based molecular prey preference of zooplankton provided insight on trophic interactions between phytoplankton and zooplankton. Data from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) provided information on the fish communities of the two reservoirs. 2) Nutrient loads differ for each reservoir. Greater nutrient concentrations yield greater primary producer biomass; I hypothesize that Saguaro Lake is more eutrophic, while Lake Pleasant is more oligotrophic. Lake Pleasant had a larger zooplankton abundance and biomass, a larger piscivore fish community, and smaller phytoplankton abundance compared to Saguaro Lake. Thus, I conclude that Lake Pleasant was controlled top-down by the large piscivore fish population and Saguaro Lake was controlled from the bottom-up by the nutrient load in the reservoir. Hypothesis 2 stated that Saguaro Lake contains more nutrients than Lake Pleasant. However, Lake Pleasant had higher concentrations of dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus than Saguaro Lake. Additionally, an extended period of low dissolved N:P ratios in Saguaro Lake indicated N limitation, favoring dominance of N-fixing filamentous cyanobacteria in the phytoplankton community in that reservoir.

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Date Created
2011

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Environmental sustainability and conventional agriculture: an assessment of maize monoculture in Sinaloa, Mexico using multicriteria decision analysis and network analysis

Description

Sinaloa, a coastal state in the northwest of Mexico, is known for irrigated conventional agriculture, and is considered one of the greatest successes of the Green Revolution. With the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s, Sinaloa farmers shifted out of conventional

Sinaloa, a coastal state in the northwest of Mexico, is known for irrigated conventional agriculture, and is considered one of the greatest successes of the Green Revolution. With the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s, Sinaloa farmers shifted out of conventional wheat, soy, cotton, and other commodities and into white maize, a major food staple in Mexico that is traditionally produced by millions of small-scale farmers. Sinaloa is now a major contributor to the national food supply, producing 26% of total domestic white maize production. Research on Sinaloa's maize has focused on economic and agronomic components. Little attention, however, has been given to the environmental sustainability of Sinaloa's expansion in maize. With uniquely biodiverse coastal and terrestrial ecosystems that support economic activities such as fishing and tourism, the environmental consequences of agriculture in Sinaloa are important to monitor. Agricultural sustainability assessments have largely focused on alternative agricultural approaches, or espouse alternative philosophies that are biased against conventional production. Conventional agriculture, however, provides a significant portion of the world's calories. In addition, incentives such as federal subsidies and other institutions complicate transitions to alternative modes of production. To meet the agricultural sustainability goals of food production and environmental stewardship, we must put conventional agriculture on a more sustainable path. One step toward achieving this is structuring agricultural sustainability assessments around achievable goals that encourage continual adaptations toward sustainability. I attempted this in my thesis by assessing conventional maize production in Sinaloa at the regional/state scale using network analysis and incorporating stakeholder values through a multicriteria decision analysis approach. The analysis showed that the overall sustainability of Sinaloa maize production is far from an ideal state. I made recommendations on how to improve the sustainability of maize production, and how to better monitor the sustainability of agriculture in Sinaloa.

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Date Created
2011

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Soil moisture availability and energetic controls on belowground network complexity and function in arid ecosystems

Description

The explicit role of soil organisms in shaping soil health, rates of pedogenesis, and resistance to erosion has only just recently begun to be explored in the last century. However, much of the research regarding soil biota and soil processes

The explicit role of soil organisms in shaping soil health, rates of pedogenesis, and resistance to erosion has only just recently begun to be explored in the last century. However, much of the research regarding soil biota and soil processes is centered on maintaining soil fertility (e.g., plant nutrient availability) and soil structure in mesic- and agro- ecosystems. Despite the empirical and theoretical strides made in soil ecology over the last few decades, questions regarding ecosystem function and soil processes remain, especially for arid areas. Arid areas have unique ecosystem biogeochemistry, decomposition processes, and soil microbial responses to moisture inputs that deviate from predictions derived using data generated in more mesic systems. For example, current paradigm predicts that soil microbes will respond positively to increasing moisture inputs in a water-limited environment, yet data collected in arid regions are not congruent with this hypothesis. The influence of abiotic factors on litter decomposition rates (e.g., photodegradation), litter quality and availability, soil moisture pulse size, and resulting feedbacks on detrital food web structure must be explicitly considered for advancing our understanding of arid land ecology. However, empirical data coupling arid belowground food webs and ecosystem processes are lacking. My dissertation explores the resource controls (soil organic matter and soil moisture) on food web network structure, size, and presence/absence of expected belowground trophic groups across a variety of sites in Arizona.

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Date Created
2014

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Theoretical and empirical investigations of ecosystem development in boreal wetlands

Description

Despite the breadth of studies investigating ecosystem development, an underlying theory guiding this process remains elusive. Several principles have been proposed to explain ecosystem development, though few have garnered broad support in the literature. I used boreal wetland soils as

Despite the breadth of studies investigating ecosystem development, an underlying theory guiding this process remains elusive. Several principles have been proposed to explain ecosystem development, though few have garnered broad support in the literature. I used boreal wetland soils as a study system to test a notable goal oriented principle: The Maximum Power Principle (MPP). The MPP posits that ecosystems, and in fact all energy systems, develop to maximize power production or the rate of energy production. I conducted theoretical and empirical investigations to test the MPP in northern wetlands.

Permafrost degradation is leading to rapid wetland formation in northern peatland ecosystems, altering the role of these ecosystems in the global carbon cycle. I reviewed the literature on the history of the MPP theory, including tracing its origins to The Second Law of Thermodynamics. To empirically test the MPP, I collected soils along a gradient of ecosystem development and: 1) quantified the rate of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production--literally cellular energy--to test the MPP; 2) quantified greenhouse gas production (CO2, CH4, and N2O) and microbial genes that produce enzymes catalyzing greenhouse gas production, and; 3) sequenced the 16s rRNA gene from soil microbes to investigate microbial community composition across the chronosequence of wetland development. My results suggested that the MPP and other related theoretical constructs have strong potential to further inform our understanding of ecosystem development. Soil system power (ATP) decreased temporarily as the ecosystem reorganized after disturbance to rates of power production that approached pre-disturbance levels. Rates of CH4 and N2O production were higher at the newly formed bog and microbial genes involved with greenhouse gas production were strongly related to the amount of greenhouse gas produced. DNA sequencing results showed that across the chronosequence of development, the two relatively mature ecosystems--the peatland forest ecosystem prior to permafrost degradation and the oldest bog--were more similar to one another than to the intermediate, less mature bog. Collectively, my results suggest that ecosystem age, rather than ecosystem state, was a more important driver for ecosystem structure and function.

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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 shown to sequester and degrade airborne pollutants (i.e. phylloremediation).

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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Date Created
2016

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Flowing together: addressing social-ecological scale mismatches for estuary watershed restoration in the Whidbey Basin, Puget Sound, WA

Description

Landscape restoration is a global priority as evidenced by the United Nations’ 2020 goal to restore 150 million hectares of land worldwide. Restoration is particularly needed in estuaries and their watersheds as society depends on these environments for numerous benefits.

Landscape restoration is a global priority as evidenced by the United Nations’ 2020 goal to restore 150 million hectares of land worldwide. Restoration is particularly needed in estuaries and their watersheds as society depends on these environments for numerous benefits. Estuary restoration is often undermined by social-ecological scale mismatch, the incongruence between governing units and the bio-physical resources they seek to govern. Despite growing recognition of this fact, few empirical studies focus on scale mismatches in environmental restoration work. Using a sub-basin of Puget Sound, Washington, U.S.A., I analyze scale mismatches in estuary restoration. I take a network science approach because governance networks can bridge scale mismatches. I combine quantitative social network analysis (SNA), geographic information systems (GIS), and qualitative interview analysis.

Spatial network analysis reveals several areas with weak scale mismatch bridging networks. These weak social networks are then compared to ecological restoration needs to identify coupled social-ecological restoration concerns. Subsequent study investigates jurisdictional and sectoral network integration because governance siloes contribute to scale mismatch. While the network is fairly well integrated, several sectors do not interact or interact very little. An analysis of collaboration reasons disentangles the idea of generic collaboration. Among three relationship types considered, mandated relationships contribute almost 5.5 times less to perceived collaboration productivity than shared interest relationships, highlighting the benefits of true collaborations in watershed governance. Lastly, the effects of scale mismatch on individual restoration projects and landscape level restoration planning are assessed through qualitative interview analysis. Results illustrate why human-environment processes should be included in landscape restoration planning. Social factors are not considered as constraints to restoration but rather part of the very landscape fabric to be restored. Scale mismatch is conceptualized as a complex social-ecological landscape pattern that affects the flow of financial, human, and natural capital across the landscape. This represents a new way of thinking about scale mismatch and landscape restoration in complex multi-level governance systems. In addition, the maps, network diagnostics, and narratives in this dissertation can help practitioners in Puget Sound and provide proofs of concepts that can be replicated elsewhere for restoration and broader conservation sciences.

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Agent

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Date Created
2015

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Shifting the sustainability paradigm: co-creating thriving living systems through regenerative development

Description

Sustainability research and action in communities should be holistic, integrating sociocultural, biogeophysical, and spiritual components and their temporal and spatial dynamics toward the aim of co-creating thriving living systems. Yet scientists and practitioners still struggle with such integration. Regenerative development

Sustainability research and action in communities should be holistic, integrating sociocultural, biogeophysical, and spiritual components and their temporal and spatial dynamics toward the aim of co-creating thriving living systems. Yet scientists and practitioners still struggle with such integration. Regenerative development (RD) offers a way forward. RD focuses on shifting the consciousness and thinking underlying (un)sustainability as well as their manifestation in the physical world, creating increasingly higher levels of health and vitality for all life across scales. However, tools are nascent and relatively insular. Until recently, no empirical scientific research studies had been published on RD processes and outcomes.

My dissertation fills this gap in three complementary studies. The first is an integrative review that contextualizes regenerative development within the fields of sustainability, sustainable design and development, and ecology by identifying its conceptual elements and introducing a regenerative landscape development paradigm. The second study integrates complex adaptive systems science, ecology, sustainability, and regenerative development to construct and pilot the first iteration of a holistic sustainable development evaluation tool—the Regenerative Development Evaluation Tool—in two river restoration projects. The third study builds upon the first two, integrating scientific knowledge with existing RD and sustainable community design and development practices and theory to construct and pilot a Regenerative Community Development (RCD) Framework. Results indicate that the RCD Framework and Tools, when used within a regenerative landscape development paradigm, can facilitate: (1) shifts in thinking and development and design outcomes to holistic and regenerative ones; (2) identification of areas where development and design projects can become more regenerative and ways to do so; and (3) identification of factors that potentially facilitate and impede RCD processes. Overall, this research provides a direction and tools for holistic sustainable development as well as foundational studies for further research.

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Date Created
2019

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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 through ecosystem services (e.g. stormwater retention or treatment). The growing

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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Agent

Created

Date Created
2019