Multi-Dimensional Characterization of Urban Households and Its Implications for the Vegetation of Urban Ecosystems: A Case Study from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study
 
J. M. Grove, A. R. Troy, J. P. M. O'Neil-Dunne, W.R. Burch, Jr., M. L. Cadenasso, and S.T.A. Pickett

 
The quantification of ecological dynamics of urban ecosystems can be enhanced with a more robust understanding of the multi-dimensional, social characteristics of households. We examined the relative significance of three social theories of household behavior-population, social stratification, and lifestyle behavior-and their implications for the vegetation structure of Baltimore, Maryland. Our ability to examine the complementarity and relative significance of these theories depended upon fine scale social and biophysical data, which enabled us to distinguish among vegetation located in areas hypothesized to be differentially linked to the three social theories. These areas are riparian areas, public rights-of-way (PROW), and private lands.
 
Using a multi-model inferential approach (Burnham and Anderson 2002), we found that variations of vegetation structure in riparian areas were best explained by population density, while lifestyle behavior was a significantly better predictor of vegetation structure in private lands. Surprisingly, lifestyle behavior was also a better predictor of variations of vegetation structure in PROWs. These results bring into question the exclusive use of income and education variables as the "usual suspects" to explain variations in vegetation structure in urban ecological systems. These results have important management implications, and suggest a possible over-reliance on environmental planning and environmental education. Environmental marketing strategies that connect with household motivations for and participation in local land management need to be considered.
 

 
Keywords: urban ecology, population, household, social stratification, lifestyle, vegetation, Baltimore, LTER
 

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