Understanding the Dynamic Connections Among Stewardship, Land Cover, and Ecosystem Services in New York City's Urban Forest
This project will integrate recent advances into an interdisciplinary human ecosystem framework to advance understanding of urban social and ecological systems, focusing specifically on the dynamic factors that cross social and ecological boundaries. The project will test hypotheses regarding the relationships between actions of managers and stewards who maintain the urban forest in New York City, the ecological processes that govern its abundance, diversity and suitability as habitat, and a key societal service it provides, temperature regulation of the urban microclimate. These hypotheses will be tested using multiscale and multitemporal analyses of stewardship group activities and evolution of this urban forest over the past 25 years. The analyses will use satellite derived land cover maps, social surveys and interviews, and vegetation and faunal data. The objective is to understand links between stewardship, ecological processes and ecosystem services in ways that directly inform stakeholders, managers and policy makers.
Urban green space provides a number of societal benefits in addition to habitat for plants and animals. These include regulation of local temperature, cleaning of air and water, reduction in storm water runoff and associated sewage system overflows, and physical and psychological benefits to humans of being close to and interacting with nature. The primary goal of this project is to study the links between the efforts and goals of stewardship organizations, development of green space and its associated flora and fauna, and temperature regulation. A secondary goal is to provide a set of analytical methods that can be used to study other services and other cities. New York City has an unparalleled supply of preexisting data, a comprehensive survey of environmental stewardship organizations, a dense and diverse human population, and a variety of city led tree planting efforts. This research will increase general understanding of the dynamic connections among stewardship, land cover, and ecosystem services, and also inform the management of the natural resources in the city.