" BES Project Abstracts 2005
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2005 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Spatial organization of households and lifestyles as environmental drivers
A.R. Troy, J.P.M. O'Neil-Dunne, M. L. Cadenasso, S.T.A. Pickett, and W.R. Burch, Jr.,
Abstract: The dynamics of urban ecosystems can be enhanced by understanding the multi-scale, social characteristics of households. One goal of our research has been to compare the relative significance of three social theories of household structure—population, lifestyle behavior, and social stratification—to the distribution of vegetation cover in Baltimore, Maryland. Our ability to examine the relative significance of these theories depended upon fine scale social and biophysical spatial data. We distinguished among vegetation in areas hypothesized to be differentially linked to the three social theories. These areas were riparian areas, private lands, and public rights-of-way (PROW). Using a multi-model inferential approach, we found that vegetation cover in riparian areas was not explained by any of the three theories, while lifestyle behavior was the best predictor of vegetation cover on private lands. Surprisingly, lifestyle behavior was also the best predictor of vegetation cover in PROWs. The inclusion of a quadratic term for housing age also significantly improved the models. A second goal of our research has been to examine the relationship between household lifestyle characteristics and a novel landcover classification developed by Cadenasso and Pickett. Focusing on landcover on private lands, we found important differences in landcover among various lifestyle groups. This suggested that household interactions with and motivations for vegetation management in urban areas were more complex and spatially heterogeneous than previously realized. Both of these research activities will be used to illustrate how the explicit use of scale and spatial heterogeneity are critical tools for integrating social and biophysical patterns and processes in urban ecosystems.