Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2007 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts


Why I watch the grass grow: Attaching ecological significance to lawn management in residential areas.
 
Lilly, Paul
Co-Authors: Paul J. Lilly, Jennifer C. Jenkins
 
Abstract: Boundaries that are meaningful in a social or political context (ex. Zoning districts) often do not match up with boundaries that are ecologically meaningful (ex. Watershed boundaries). Patch dynamics theory, as applied at BES, suggests that land cover patches can serve as common building blocks - they can be put together to build both socially and ecologically meaningful land areas. In order to understand what we build, however, we must be able to say something about the social and ecological characteristics and function of our blocks. The Residential Carbon project is attempting to quantify C stocks and fluxes in certain components of certain building-block patches - vegetation on residential lots - and identify drivers of the same. Homeowner management activities can significantly affect C stocks and fluxes, but we were unable to control for this in the design of the RC project. While certain activities (ex. Tree removal) are more easily accounted for, lawn management is something of an unknown. It is understood to have some degree of social significance, and there is evidence to suggest it has major ecological significance as well (although some have argued a lawn is a lawn is a lawn). In order to test the effects of lawn management on C stocks and fluxes in the grass-soil system, we have installed an experimental manipulation at the UMD Turf Farm. While the project is in its early stages, some effects are becoming evident in preliminary data.