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  1. null (Ed.)
  2. null (Ed.)
    Despite the social and ecological importance of residential spaces across the country, scant research examines urban yard management policies in the U.S. Governance scholarship points to the implementation challenges of navigating policy language. Our research provides an exploration of yard ordinance language, with implications for communities across the U.S. Specifically, we sought to determine whether—and in what instances—vegetation- and groundcover-related yard ordinances in the U.S. are ambiguous or clear. Our findings suggest that ordinances are often ambiguous when referring to the state or quality of the constituent parts that make up the residential yard (e.g., “neat” or “orderly”). Yet they are clear when providing guidance about what plant species are or are not allowed, or when articulating specific requirements regarding the size or dimensions of impervious surfaces and plants. We discuss the policy implications of these findings, especially in the context of how such policies may invite the subjective judgment by enforcers, leaving open the potential for discriminatory enforcement, especially with regard to marginalized communities where different cultural values and esthetics may be expressed in yards.
  3. Brunton, Dianne (Ed.)
    Urbanization has a homogenizing effect on biodiversity and leads to communities with fewer native species and lower conservation value. However, few studies have explored whether or how land management by urban residents can ameliorate the deleterious effects of this homogenization on species composition. We tested the effects of local (land management) and neighborhood-scale (impervious surface and tree canopy cover) features on breeding bird diversity in six US metropolitan areas that differ in regional species pools and climate. We used a Bayesian multiregion community model to assess differences in species richness, functional guild richness, community turnover, population vulnerability, and public interest in each bird community in six land management types: two natural area park types (separate and adjacent to residential areas), two yard types with conservation features (wildlife-certified and water conservation) and two lawn-dominated yard types (high- and low-fertilizer application), and surrounding neighborhood-scale features. Species richness was higher in yards compared with parks; however, parks supported communities with high conservation scores while yards supported species of high public interest. Bird communities in all land management types were composed of primarily native species. Within yard types, species richness was strongly and positively associated with neighborhood-scale tree canopy cover and negatively associated withmore »impervious surface. At a continental scale, community turnover between cities was lowest in yards and highest in parks. Within cities, however, turnover was lowest in high-fertilizer yards and highest in wildlife-certified yards and parks. Our results demonstrate that, across regions, preserving natural areas, minimizing impervious surfaces and increasing tree canopy are essential strategies to conserve regionally important species. However, yards, especially those managed for wildlife support diverse, heterogeneous bird communities with high public interest and potential to support species of conservation concern. Management approaches that include the preservation of protected parks, encourage wildlife-friendly yards and acknowledge how public interest in local birds can advance successful conservation in American residential landscapes.« less
  4. Abstract

    Milldams and their legacies have significantly influenced fluvial processes and geomorphology. However, less is known about their effects on riparian zone hydrology, biogeochemistry, and water quality. Here, we discuss the potential effects of existing and breached milldams on riparian nitrogen (N) processing through multiple competing hypotheses and observations from complementary studies. Competing hypotheses characterize riparian zone processes that remove (sink) or release (source) N. Elevated groundwater levels and reducing soil conditions upstream of milldams suggest that riparian zones above dams could be hotspots for N removal via denitrification and plant N uptake. On the other hand, dam removals and subsequent drops in stream and riparian groundwater levels result in drained, oxic soils which could increase soil nitrification and decrease riparian plant uptake due to groundwater bypassing the root zone. Whether dam removals would result in a net increase or decrease of N in riparian groundwaters is unknown and needs to be investigated. While nitrification, denitrification, and plant N uptake have typically received the most attention in riparian studies, other N cycle processes such as dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) need to be considered. We also propose a novel concept of riparian discontinuum, which highlights the hydrologic and biogeochemicalmore »discontinuities introduced in riparian zones by anthropogenic structures such as milldams. Understanding and quantifying how milldams and similar structures influence the net source or sink behavior of riparian zones is urgently needed for guiding watershed management practices and for informed decision making with regard to dam removals.

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  5. Urbanization has a homogenizing effect on biodiversity and leads to communities with fewer native species and lower conservation value. However, few studies have explored whether or how land management by urban residents can ameliorate the deleterious effects of this homogenization on species composition. We tested the effects of local (land management) and neighborhood-scale (impervious surface and tree canopy cover) features on breeding bird diversity in six US metropolitan areas that differ in regional species pools and climate. We used a Bayesian multiregion community model to assess differences in species richness, functional guild richness, community turnover, population vulnerability, and public interest in each bird community in six land management types: two natural area park types (separate and adjacent to residential areas), two yard types with conservation features (wildlife-certified and water conservation) and two lawn-dominated yard types (high- and low-fertilizer application), and surrounding neighborhood-scale features. Species richness was higher in yards compared with parks; however, parks supported communities with high conservation scores while yards supported species of high public interest. Bird communities in all land management types were composed of primarily native species. Within yard types, species richness was strongly and positively associated with neighborhood-scale tree canopy cover and negatively associated withmore »impervious surface. At a continental scale, community turnover between cities was lowest in yards and highest in parks. Within cities, however, turnover was lowest in high-fertilizer yards and highest in wildlife-certified yards and parks. Our results demonstrate that, across regions, preserving natural areas, minimizing impervious surfaces and increasing tree canopy are essential strategies to conserve regionally important species. However, yards, especially those managed for wildlife support diverse, heterogeneous bird communities with high public interest and potential to support species of conservation concern. Management approaches that include the preservation of protected parks, encourage wildlife-friendly yards and acknowledge how public interest in local birds can advance successful conservation in American residential landscapes.« less
  6. The arboreal ecosystem is vitally important to global and local biogeochemical processes, the maintenance of biodiversity in natural systems, and human health in urban environments. The ability to collect samples, observations, and data to conduct meaningful scientific research is similarly vital. The primary methods and modes of access remain limited and difficult. In an online survey, canopy researchers ( n = 219) reported a range of challenges in obtaining adequate samples, including ∼10% who found it impossible to procure what they needed. Currently, these samples are collected using a combination of four primary methods: (1) sampling from the ground; (2) tree climbing; (3) constructing fixed infrastructure; and (4) using mobile aerial platforms, primarily rotorcraft drones. An important distinction between instantaneous and continuous sampling was identified, allowing more targeted engineering and development strategies. The combination of methods for sampling the arboreal ecosystem provides a range of possibilities and opportunities, particularly in the context of the rapid development of robotics and other engineering advances. In this study, we aim to identify the strategies that would provide the benefits to a broad range of scientists, arborists, and professional climbers and facilitate basic discovery and applied management. Priorities for advancing these efforts are (1)more »to expand participation, both geographically and professionally; (2) to define 2–3 common needs across the community; (3) to form and motivate focal teams of biologists, tree professionals, and engineers in the development of solutions to these needs; and (4) to establish multidisciplinary communication platforms to share information about innovations and opportunities for studying arboreal ecosystems.« less