skip to main content

Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 1855277

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Whalen, Joann (Ed.)

    Residential landscapes are essential to the sustainability of large areas of the United States. However, spatial and temporal variation across multiple domains complicates developing policies to balance these systems’ environmental, economic, and equity dimensions. We conducted multidisciplinary studies in the Baltimore, MD, USA, metropolitan area to identify locations (hotspots) or times (hot moments) with a disproportionate influence on nitrogen export, a widespread environmental concern. Results showed high variation in the inherent vulnerability/sensitivity of individual parcels to cause environmental damage and in the knowledge and practices of individual managers. To the extent that hotspots are the result of management choices by homeowners, there are straightforward approaches to improve outcomes, e.g. fertilizer restrictions and incentives to reduce fertilizer use. If, however, hotspots arise from the configuration and inherent characteristics of parcels and neighborhoods, efforts to improve outcomes may involve more intensive and complex interventions, such as conversion to alternative ecosystem types.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 29, 2024
  2. Abstract

    The idea of green infrastructure (GI) has generated great interest and creativity in addressing a range of challenging and expensive environmental problems, from coastal resilience to control of combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The appeal of GI stems from its cost savings compared to traditional “gray” infrastructure and the multiple benefits it provides, including biodiversity, aesthetics, and carbon sequestration. For example, a “green” approach to controlling CSOs in New York City saved $1.5 billion compared to a “gray” approach. Despite these advantages, GI still does not have detailed design and reliability specifications as compared to engineered gray infrastructure, potentially hindering its adoption. In this paper, we review some of the potential applications of GI in modern environmental science and discuss how reliability and associated (un)certainty in net benefits need to be addressed to realize the potential of this new approach.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Land-use change is highly dynamic globally and there is great uncertainty about the effects of land-use legacies on contemporary environmental performance. We used a chronosequence of urban grasslands (lawns) that were converted from agricultural and forested lands from 10 to over 130 years prior to determine if land-use legacy influences components of soil biodiversity and composition over time. We used historical aerial imagery to identify sites in Baltimore County, MD (USA) with agricultural versus forest land-use history. Soil samples were taken from these sites as well as from existing well-studied agricultural and forest sites used as historical references by the National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research Baltimore Ecosystem Study program. We found that the microbiomes in lawns of agricultural origin were similar to those in agricultural reference sites, which suggests that the ecological parameters on lawns and reference agricultural systems are similar in how they influence soil microbial community dynamics. In contrast, lawns that were previously forest showed distinct shifts in soil bacterial composition upon recent conversion but reverted back in composition similar to forest soils as the lawns aged over decades. Soil fungal communities shifted after forested land was converted to lawns, but unlike bacterial communities, did not revert in composition over time. Our results show that components of bacterial biodiversity and composition are resistant to change in previously forested lawns despite urbanization processes. Therefore land-use legacy, depending on the prior use, is an important factor to consider when examining urban ecological homogenization.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Despite interest in the contribution of evapotranspiration (ET) of residential turfgrass lawns to household and municipal water budgets across the United States, the spatial and temporal variability of residential lawn ET across large scales is highly uncertain. We measured instantaneous ET (ETinst) of lawns in 79 residential yards in six metropolitan areas: Baltimore, Boston, Miami, Minneapolis‐St. Paul (mesic climates), Los Angeles and Phoenix (arid climates). Each yard had one of four landscape types and management practices: traditional lawn‐dominated yards with high or low fertilizer input, yards with water‐conserving features, and yards with wildlife‐friendly features. We measured ETinstin situ during the growing season using portable chambers and identified environmental and anthropogenic factors controlling ET in residential lawns. For each household, we used ETinstto estimate daily ET of the lawn (ETdaily) and multiplied ETdailyby the lawn area to estimate the total volume of water lost through ET of the lawn (ETvol). ETdailyvaried from 0.9 ± 0.4 mm d1in mesic cities to 2.9 ± 0.7 mm d−1in arid cities. Neither ETinstnor ETdailywas significantly influenced by yard landscape types and ETinstpatterns indicated that lawns may be largely decoupled from regional rain‐driven climate patterns. ETvolranged from ∼0 L d−1to over 2,000 L d−1, proportionally increasing with lawn area. Current irrigation and lawn management practices did not necessarily result in different ETinstor ETdailyamong traditional, water‐conserving, or wildlife‐friendly yards, but smaller lawn areas in water‐conserving and wildlife‐friendly yards resulted in lower ETvol.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Stream restoration is widely used to mitigate the degradation of urban stream channels, protect infrastructure, and reduce sediment and nutrient loadings to receiving waterbodies. Stabilizing and revegetating riparian areas can also provide recreational opportunities and amenities, and improve quality of life for nearby residents. In this project, we developed indices of an environmental benefit (potential nitrate load reduction, a priority in the Chesapeake Bay watershed) and economic benefit (household willingness to pay, WTP) of stream restoration for all low order stream reaches in three main watersheds in the Baltimore metro region. We found spatial asynchrony of these benefits such that their spatial patterns were negatively correlated. Stream restoration in denser urban, less wealthy neighborhoods have high WTP, but low potential nitrate load reduction, while suburban and exurban, wealthy neighborhoods have the reverse trend. The spatial asynchrony raises challenges for decision makers to balance economic efficiency, social equity, and specific environmental goals of stream restoration programs.

    more » « less
  6. Abstract

    Ecologywiththe city is a transdisciplinary pursuit, combining the work of researchers, policy makers, managers, and residents to advance equity and sustainability. This undertaking may be facilitated by understanding the parallels in two kinds of coproduction. First, is how urban systems themselves are places that are jointly constituted or coproduced by biophysical and social processes. Second, is how sustainable planning and policies also join human concerns with biophysical structures and processes. Seeking connections between coproduction of place and the coproduction of knowledge may help improve how urban ecology engageswithdiverse communities and urban interests in service of sustainability.

    more » « less
  7. Abstract

    The conversion of native ecosystems to residential ecosystems dominated by lawns has been a prevailing land‐use change in the United States over the past 70 years. Similar development patterns and management of residential ecosystems cause many characteristics of residential ecosystems to be more similar to each other across broad continental gradients than that of former native ecosystems. For instance, similar lawn management by irrigation and fertilizer applications has the potential to influence soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pools and processes. We evaluated the mean and variability of total soil C and N stocks, potential net N mineralization and nitrification, soil nitrite (NO2)/nitrate (NO3) and ammonium (NH4+) pools, microbial biomass C and N content, microbial respiration, bulk density, soil pH, and moisture content in residential lawns and native ecosystems in six metropolitan areas across a broad climatic gradient in the United States: Baltimore, MD (BAL); Boston, MA (BOS); Los Angeles, CA (LAX); Miami, FL (MIA); Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN (MSP); and Phoenix, AZ (PHX). We observed evidence of higher N cycling in lawn soils, including significant increases in soil NO2/NO3, microbial N pools, and potential net nitrification, and significant decreases in NH4+pools. Self‐reported yard fertilizer application in the previous year was linked with increased NO2/ NO3content and decreases in total soil N and C content. Self‐reported irrigation in the previous year was associated with decreases in potential net mineralization and potential net nitrification and with increases in bulk density and pH. Residential topsoil had higher total soil C than native topsoil, and microbial biomass C was markedly higher in residential topsoil in the two driest cities (LAX and PHX). Coefficients of variation for most biogeochemical metrics were higher in native soils than in residential soils across all cities, suggesting that residential development homogenizes soil properties and processes at the continental scale.

    more » « less
  8. Abstract

    Given the large and increasing amount of urban, suburban, and exurban land use on Earth, there is a need to accurately assess net primary productivity (NPP) of urban ecosystems. However, the heterogeneous and dynamic urban mosaic presents challenges to the measurement of NPP, creating landscapes that may appear more similar to a savanna than to the native landscape replaced. Studies of urban biomass have tended to focus on one type of vegetation (e.g., lawns or trees). Yet a focus on the ecology of the city should include the entire urban ecosystem rather than the separate investigation of its parts. Furthermore, few studies have attempted to measure urban aboveground NPP (ANPP) using field‐based methods. Most studies project growth rates from measurements of tree diameter to estimate annual ANPP or use remote sensing approaches. In addition, field‐based methods for measuring NPP do not address any special considerations for adapting such field methods to urban landscapes. Frequent planting and partial or complete removal of herbaceous and woody plants can make it difficult to accurately quantify increments and losses of plant biomass throughout an urban landscape. In this study, we review how ANPP of urban landscapes can be estimated based on field measurements, highlighting the challenges specific to urban areas. We then estimated ANPP of woody and herbaceous vegetation over a 15‐year period for Baltimore, MD, USA using a combination of plot‐based field data and published values from the literature. Baltimore's citywide ANPP was estimated to be 355.8 g m−2, a result that we then put into context through comparison with other North American Long‐Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites and mean annual precipitation. We found our estimate of Baltimore citywide ANPP to be only approximately half as much (or less) than ANPP at forested LTER sites of the eastern United States, and more comparable to grassland, oldfield, desert, or boreal forest ANPP. We also found that Baltimore had low productivity for its level of precipitation. We conclude with a discussion of the significance of accurate assessment of primary productivity of urban ecosystems and critical future research needs.

    more » « less
  9. Abstract

    During and after rainfall events, the interaction of precipitation with hot urban pavements leads to hot runoff, and its merger with urban streams can result in an abrupt change in water temperature that can harm aquatic ecosystems. To understand this phenomenon and its relation to land cover and hydrometeorological parameters, we analyzed data spanning two years from 100 sites in the eastern United States. To identify surges, we first isolated temperature jumps of at least 0.5°C over 15 min occurring simultaneously with water flow increase. Surge magnitude was defined as the difference between peak stream temperature and baseflow temperature right before the jump. At least 10 surges were observed in 53 of the studied streams, with some surges exceeding 10°C. Our results demonstrate that the watershed developed area and vegetation fraction are the best descriptors of surge frequency (Spearman correlation of 0.76 and 0.77, respectively). On the other hand, for surge magnitude and peak temperature, the primary drivers are stream discharge and stream temperature immediately before the surge. In general, the more urbanized streams were found to be already warmer than their more “vegetated” counterparts during baseflow conditions, and were also the most affected by temperature surges. Together, these findings suggest the existence of a hydrological urban heat island, here defined as the increase in stream temperature (chronic and/or acute), caused by increased urbanization.

    more » « less
  10. Abstract

    Redlining was a racially discriminatory housing policy established by the federal government’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) during the 1930s. For decades, redlining limited access to homeownership and wealth creation among racial minorities, contributing to a host of adverse social outcomes, including high unemployment, poverty, and residential vacancy, that persist today. While the multigenerational socioeconomic impacts of redlining are increasingly understood, the impacts on urban environments and ecosystems remain unclear. To begin to address this gap, we investigated how the HOLC policy administered 80 years ago may relate to present-day tree canopy at the neighborhood level. Urban trees provide many ecosystem services, mitigate the urban heat island effect, and may improve quality of life in cities. In our prior research in Baltimore, MD, we discovered that redlining policy influenced the location and allocation of trees and parks. Our analysis of 37 metropolitan areas here shows that areas formerly graded D, which were mostly inhabited by racial and ethnic minorities, have on average ~23% tree canopy cover today. Areas formerly graded A, characterized by U.S.-born white populations living in newer housing stock, had nearly twice as much tree canopy (~43%). Results are consistent across small and large metropolitan regions. The ranking system used by Home Owners’ Loan Corporation to assess loan risk in the 1930s parallels the rank order of average percent tree canopy cover today.

    more » « less