Project Details


CAP3: Urban Sustainability in the Dynamic Environment of Central Arizona USA CAP3: Urban Sustainability in the Dynamic Environment of Central Arizona, USA As the long-term study of rapidly urbanizing central Arizona reaches the 12-year mark, the critical importance of cities as a source of both problems and potential solutions to the global sustainability challenge has come into focus. Accordingly, CAPs central question has evolved to reflect this emphasis: How do the services provided by evolving urban ecosystems affect human outcomes and behavior, and how does human action (response) alter patterns of ecosystem structure and function and, ultimately, urban sustainability, in a dynamic environment? Working from a conceptual framework that links the social and ecological spheres of urban socioecological systems via ecosystem services, CAP will continue to build foundational databases of land-use and land-cover change, human attitudes and perceptions with respect to the environment, an extensive snapshot of ecological variables across the 6400-km2 study area, household- and neighborhood scale responses to experimental manipulation of residential landscapes, and demographic and economic variables. Based on these foundations, ongoing and new research is proposed in four Integrative Project Areas: Climate, Ecosystems and People; Water Dynamics in a Desert City; Biogeochemical Patterns, Processes, and Human Outcomes; and Human Decisions and Biodiversity. Finally, new activities are proposed to both synthesize >12 years of existing data and to work with other scientists, decision makers, and the public in co-producing a vision for a sustainable future in central Arizona. CAP contributes to scientific understanding by developing and testing theory of socioecological systems for the urban case, using a place-based, transdisciplinary approach. The long-term database will be further developed and used to test new hypotheses about ecosystem services in designed and highly modified urban environments. New work on land cover will include three distinct scales (parcel, metropolitan, regional megapolitan), adding object-based analysis of high-resolution imagery to address questions about ecosystem services associated with different land configurations (architectures), vegetationwaterheat interactions, and movement of water during storms. Waterrelated projects bring new hydrologic expertise and models to bear on questions of landscape redistribution of water and connectivity, ecosystem services, and virtual water. Biogeochemical research will continue to focus on altered cycles, but will add analysis of persistent organic pollutants. A new perspective of the urban food web will organize biodiversity research, which continues to focus on mechanistic explanations for biodiversity change in the face of urbanization. Throughout much of this work, CAP will launch systematic treatments of tradeoffs among ecosystem services and between those services and human outcomes. CAPs broader impacts include: 1) raising scientists and decision-makers awareness of cities as socioecological platforms for solving sustainability challenges; 2) integrating education and outreach at all levels into our programs; 3) continuing to develop and maintain a comprehensive, long-term database of ecological and social variables for a rapidly changing system; and 4) coproducing knowledge with community and governmental decision-makers. CAP has been an exemplar of transdisciplinary approaches, both within the LTER network and in several environmental science disciplines (Impact 1). Ecology Explorers, CAPs K-12 education-outreach program, will continue its work with teachers and will partner with our new GK12 and other intiatives to bring ecology into sustainability education (Impact 2). At the close of our 12-y IGERT program in urban ecology, CAP and other graduate students have formed their own group, Graduates in Integrative Society and Environment Research, with which CAP will partner to establish a graduate mini-grant program (Impact 2). Information management will ens CAP3: Urban Sustainability in the Dynamic Environment of Central Arizona, USA Equipment Supplement Request for NSF Award # DEB-1026865
Effective start/end date12/1/1011/30/18


  • NSF: Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO): $6,812,015.00


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