BES collects important long-term data on urban ecosystem structure, function and change. It also conducts research to improve understanding and application of the concept of sustainability to an urban system, based on testing hypotheses concerning the social and biogeophysical processes in Baltimore that can help achieve local sustainability policy.
The research employs complementary strategies of experimentation, comparison, long-term measurement, and modeling. Models of feedback between social and biogeophysical processes linked through ecosystem services of water quality and flow, and net carbon storage place the variables and spatial patterns measured in a practical context.
Three theoretical areas new to BES III (2012-2016) are socio-economic models of the locational choices made by households and firms, an urban version of the stream continuum concept, and an application of metacommunity theory to the fragmented urban biota. These theories suggest integrative research questions and stimulate integrated modeling. The project will enhance understanding of cities, suburbs, and exurbs as integrated, spatially extensive, ecological-social systems.