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Homogenization of vegetation structure across residential neighborhoods: effects of climate, urban morphology, and socio-economics
Ossola, A. AND M. Hopton. Homogenization of vegetation structure across residential neighborhoods: effects of climate, urban morphology, and socio-economics. Presented at Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Portland, OR, August 06 - 11, 2017.
Climate could act as an important biophysical driver at large spatial scales, while other socio-economic drivers operate at finer scales
Climate is a key driver regulating vegetation structure across rural ecosystems. In urban ecosystems, multiple interactions between humans and the environment can have homogenizing influences, confounding the relationship between vegetation structure and climate. In fact, vegetation and tree cover in residential neighborhoods frequently appear to be homogenized, and as such, to converge among different urban areas. However, little information exists on the concurrent effects mediated by climate, urban morphology, or socio-economic drivers and how these affect the structural characteristics of vegetation at large spatial scales. In this study, residential vegetation structure was examined for relationships with urban morphological and socio-economic characteristics along a large temperature (T) and evapotranspiration (ET) gradient in the continental US. Airborne LiDAR and multispectral imagery, collected over nine cities in 2013-15, were used to calculate vegetation structure metrics (i.e., height and volume) in more than 1.4 million residential parcels and 1500 census tracts. Vegetation height and volume on residential parcels generally increased with T and ET, albeit to a lesser extent compared to that of vegetation in rural areas. Volume of vegetation on residential parcels was highest in census tracts developed in the 1980s, and more than double the volume of census tracts developed in the 1930s and 2000s. Vegetation height and volume were higher in census tracts with higher percent home ownership and percent high school graduates. However, as opposed to previous urban tree cover studies, no clear relationships between vegetation structure and level of income or racial composition were identified. This study suggests that vegetation structure across US residential parcels might not be structurally homogeneous. Climate could act as an important biophysical driver at large spatial scales, whereas other socio-economic drivers operate at finer scales. These findings will inform further research needed to evaluate the cascading effects on multiple ecological and hydrological processes related to urban vegetation structure.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/SLIDE)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY
WATER SYSTEMS DIVISION
WATER RESOURCES RECOVERY BRANCH