In the CAP region, are ecosystem services derived from biogeochemical processes distributed inequitably? What are the socio-ecological drivers and consequences of inequitable distributions of ecosystem services? How, if at all, have these patterns and processes changed over the last decade?
Human Decisions and Biodiversity: Populations, Food Webs, and Organismal Interactions with Humans
How do human activities, behaviors, and values change biodiversity and its components (population abundance, species distribution and richness, and community and trophic structure)? In turn, how do variations in biodiversity feed back to influence these same human values, perceptions, and actions? Urbanization profoundly alters the composition, abundance, and distribution of non-human species. Habitat alteration, climate modification, shifting nutrient and water availability, and introduction of nonnative species often result in a complete restructuring of biotic communities. Our research will:
- Address mechanisms (e.g., competition, physiological stress) that contribute to species loss and dominance;
- Investigate the efficacy of efforts to conserve and restore 'natural' habitats within the urban environment;
- Develop an urban food web as a new synthesis of our biotic monitoring program.
Research questions to be addressed:
- What mechanisms explain species loss and dominance, and ultimately, biodiversity in the urban environment?
- Can conservation and restoration of ‘natural’ habitats within the urban environment restore ‘natural’ communities of herpetofauna?
- How do human activities, behaviors, and values modify diversity, and what are the links between specific attributes of biodiversity and outcomes and behaviors?
Foundational Research Areas
Land Use, Land Cover, and Land Architecture:
A suite of remote-sensing activities producing land-use and land-cover products for CAP research at fine, medium, and coarse scales and enabling parcel-level, metropolitan-scale, and megapolitan-scale analyses.
North Desert Village Experimental Suburb:
A research platform for investigations of the impact of residential landscaping types on microclimate, primary productivity, arthropod biodiversity, and human ecological values and perceptions.
A field-based monitoring component investigating ecosystem change over time, repeated every five years at over 200 locations spread across the urbanized Phoenix metropolitan region and surrounding desert.
Phoenix Area Social Survey (PASS):
A social survey conducted every five years to households in 40 neighborhoods co-located with Survey 200 to investigate human perceptions, values, and behaviors concerning the environmental domains of CAP LTER.
Economic and Census Data Mining:
A set of activities to mine existing social, economic, and spatial data sets for data that are fundamental for understanding linkages between human and biophysical systems.
Synthesis of 12 Years of CAP LTER Research:
This activity synthesizes research results from the first 12 years of CAP research, focusing on the central research question, How do the patterns and processes of urbanization alter the ecological conditions of the city and its surrounding environment, and how do ecological consequences of these developments feed back to the social system to generate future changes? Answering this question allows the project to critically examine: the overall state of our knowledge; the accomplishments and societal as well as scientific usefulness of this knowledge; and any needed adjustments to future CAP research.
Sustainable Futures for Central Arizona:
Building on our 12-year synthesis, we are developing future scenarios for the central Arizona socio-ecological system that address the critical question, How do biophysical drivers (e.g. climate change) and societal drivers (e.g. the pattern of land-use change or land architecture) influence the interaction and feedbacks between ecosystems and society as mediated through ecosystem services, and thereby influence the future of the urban socio-ecological system?
Our work involves engaging in two sets of scenario activities. One focuses on sustainable land architecture and assesses the vulnerability, resilience, and sustainability of metropolitan Phoenix under current and potential climate drivers. This incorporates quantitative assessments of tradeoffs between ecosystem services and human outcomes as well as a consideration of the effect of land architecture on these tradeoffs. The second set of activities, integrated participatory scenarios, builds upon the sustainable land architecture scenarios, the 12-year synthesis and new data and models from CAP research and focuses on socio-ecological futures for metropolitan Phoenix. All scenario activities involve use of Arizona State University’s Decision Theater as a tool for visualizing scenarios and for creating decision-friendly versions of the models that can be used with policymakers, planners, and community development practitioners.