Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2009 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Lots of Opportunities: Managment of Vacant Lots as a Socio-ecological System
Williams, Yvette
Co-Authors: Yvette M. Williams

Abstract: In accordance to urban ecological theory, anthropogenic drivers dominate natural drivers of ecological system responses. To conceptualize this theory, this dissertation research proposes a continuum of vacant lots in which management is considered the key driver shaping vegetation diversity. Vegetation diversity is defined as relative abundances of life forms (i.e., shrubs, trees, herbaceous, vines) using the Raunkiaer classification method. The management of vacant lots represents a socio-ecological system which features interactions and feedbacks between ecological systems (e.g., vegetation, soil, water) and social systems (e.g., economic, political, and cultural). The proposed management continuum of vacant lots includes highly managed community garden lots, “Clean & Green” lots, and unmanaged vacant lots. With respect to this proposed continuum, this research hypothesizes that high levels of management yield low levels of vegetation diversity, and lesser levels of management yield high levels of diversity. Preliminary findings for this poster presentation indicate that hemicryptophytes (perennials or biennials with runners) were the most commonly recorded life forms for both unmanaged vacant lots and “Clean & Green” lots while phanerophytes and chameaphytes (trees and shrubs, respectively) were more often recorded along the perimeter and/or the rear of these lots. Additionally, community gardens show greater abundances of both therophytes (annuals) and perennials than either Clean & Green or unmanaged vacant lots. To provide a social context for the dynamic nature of this socio-ecological system, observations of social conditions of these neighborhoods during the course of the field study are included in this presentation.