Baltimore Ecosystem Study Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2012 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Ecological Homogenization of Urban America
Morse, Jennifer
Co-Authors: J. L. Morse, Cavender-Bares, N. D. Bettez, Groffman, P. M., J. M. Grove, S. J. Hall, J. Heffernan, S. E. Hobbie, K. L. Larson, C. Neill, K. Nelson, J. O'Neil- Dunne, L. Ogden, D. E. Pataki, C. Polsky, R. Roy Chowdhury, M. K. Steele

Abstract: Urban land use change has been identified as one of the major components of environmental change because of its effects on biodiversity, local climate, and fluxes of water, carbon and nutrients, across large areas of the globe. One hypothesized result of contemporary U.S. urban land use change is ecological homogenization across cities, wherein human dominance and leading land-management practices render urban and suburban systems in different cities more similar to each other than to adjacent native ecosystems. Using variables including plant diversity, soil processes, microclimate, and social surveys, we are testing this and related hypotheses in six metropolitan areas: Baltimore, MD; Phoenix, AZ; Boston, MA, Miami, FL; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; and Los Angeles, CA. In Baltimore, our sample design included 21 residences with lawns (across urban, suburban, and exurban development densities), three urban vacant lots, three forested areas, and three agricultural sites. In summer 2012, we collected vegetation data (biomass and diversity), soil samples to one meter depth, and installed microclimate stations across the sites. We present the conceptual basis and methodologies we are using to determine the extent of ecological homogenization in urban ecosystems.