Project Details


LTER: CAP IV - Investigating urban ecology and sustainability through the lens of LTER: CAP IV - Investigating urban ecology and sustainability through the lens of Urban Ecological Infrastructure Overview: Phase IV of the Central ArizonaPhoenix LTER (CAP) continues to center around the question: How do the services provided by dynamic urban ecosystems affect human outcomes and behavior, and how do human actions affect patterns of urban ecosystem structure and function and, ultimately, urban sustainability and resilience? The overarching goal is to foster social-ecological urban research aimed at understanding these complex systems using a holistic, ecology of cities perspective while contributing to an ecology for cities that enhances urban sustainability and resilience. This goal is being met through four broad programmatic objectives. CAP IV: 1) uses long-term observations and datasets to articulate and answer new questions requiring a long-term perspective; 2) develops and uses predictive models and future-looking scenarios to help answer research questions; 3) employs existing urban ecological theory while articulating new theory; and 4) builds transdisciplinary partnerships to foster resilience and enhance sustainability in urban ecosystems while educating urban dwellers of all ages and experiences. CAP IV research is organized around eight interdisciplinary questions and 11 long-term datasets and experiments, and researchers are organized into eight Interdisciplinary Research Themes. Intellectual Merit: Homo sapiens is becoming an increasingly urban species, pointing to the profound importance of understanding urban ecosystems. Cities are concentrated consumers of energy and resources and producers of various wastes, but they are also centers of social networks, innovation, efficiency, and solutions. Understanding urban ecosystems has always been central to the CAP enterprise. By its very nature, the CAP IV central question articulates the interconnectedness of human motivations, behaviors, actions, and outcomes with urban ecosystem structure and function. This focus only makes sense given that Homo sapiens is the dominant speciesthe ecosystem engineerof urban ecosystems. A new theoretical focus for CAP IV is on Urban Ecological Infrastructure (UEI) as a critical bridge between the systems biophysical and human/social components. UIE is thus central in the conceptual framework that is guiding all CAP IV activities. CAP IV research is exploring new social-ecological frontiers of interdisciplinary urban ecology in residential landscapes, urban waterbodies, desert parks and preserves, the flora, fauna, and climate of a riparianized desert city, and urban design and governance. CAP will continue to grow urban systems theory, knowledge, and predictive capacity while helping Phoenix and other cities cope with an increasingly uncertain future. Broader Impacts: CAP IV now includes research in its broader impacts, with a theoretical focus on the nexus of ecology and design to enhance urban sustainability and resilience. This focus, in combination with ongoing CAP scenarios work, is the knowledge to action link between social-ecological research outcomes and city institutions, ultimately making Phoenix, and cities in general, a better place to live. In addition to these research endeavors, CAPs Schoolyard LTEREcology Explorerscontinues to connect teachers and students with CAP scientists through urban ecology protocols and learning modules based on CAP research. Ecology Explorers hosts summer professional development programs for K-12 teachers and offers internships for undergraduate students to directly reach low socio-economic status K-12 students. CAP is expanding its citizen science projects around Phoenix through collaborations with community partners such as the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, the Desert Botanical Garden, and numerous municipal agencies. The successful CAP REU Program continues to use ASUs ESA SEEDS chapter and the ESA SPUR Fellowship Program to recruit under-represented students, as CAP grows its leadership on, and strong commitment to, diversity and inclusion. CAP continues to support graduate students with the Grad Grants program, by providing extensive research infrastructure and services, and by direct support from all of the major academic units at ASU that house CAP scientists. Finally, CAPs large, diverse, and rich database, and nearly 200 datasets in the LTER NIS, is a valuable and growing resource for LTER scientists and students, researchers world-wide, urban practitioners, teachers, and the general public. LTER: CAP IV - Investigating urban ecology and sustainability through the lens of Urban Ecological Infrastructure LTER: CAP IV - Investigating urban ecology and sustainability through the lens of Urban Ecological Infrastructure LTER: CAP IV - Investigating urban ecology and sustainability through the lens of Urban Ecological Infrastructure_Critical Infrastructure Supplement Request
Effective start/end date12/1/1811/30/22


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $4,614,545.00


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