Urban Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services

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Principal Investigator: 
Myla Aronson, Rutgers University
Charles Nilon, University of Missouri

Understanding the social and ecological factors that drive biodiversity and ecosystem services (ESS) in cities is critical for conservation and the human experience. Cities are ideal laboratories for studying the drivers of biodiversity and ESS, as well as documenting methods for monitoring, management, and restoration of biodiversity and ESS. Understanding these factors allows us to better design and plan cities for sustainable conservation and ecosystem function. Here we propose to bring together ecologists, sociologists, and design and policy professionals to examine the ecological and social linkages among biodiversity, ESS, and environmental policy and how these can best be monitored, managed, and restored within and across cities globally. We propose to address three questions:

  • How do cities approach biodiversity and ecosystem service monitoring, restoration, and policy?
  • How do these approaches change across cities with different systems of governance, planning, and socio-economics, and development histories?
  • Do environmental policies in cities designed for conservation or restoration of ecosystem services also conserve biodiversity?

Our working group will use an existing database on bird and plant diversity for 147 of the world's cities as a starting point for answering these questions. We will compile additional data sets for the cities containing social and demographic data from national censuses; environmental policies developed by cities that address biodiversity and ESS; and restoration projects that focus on biodiversity and ESS. Our syntheses of these data sets will target researchers and practitioners and document approaches used in urban areas to address biodiversity conservation and management of ecosystem services.

Sarel Cilliers, North-West University
Cynnamon Dobbs, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Lauren Frazee, Rutgers University
Mark Goddard, Newcastle University
Karen O'Neill, Rutgers University
Debra Roberts, eThekwini Municipality
Emilie Stander, Raritan Valley Community College
Peter Werner, Institute for Housing and Environment, Germany
Marten Winter, iDiv
Ken Yocom, University of Washington
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