Residential water management as a driver of urban biodiversity

67.11  Wednesday, Jan. 6  Resilience in urban socioecological systems: residential water management as a driver of biodiversity KATTI, M*; SCHLEDER, B; California State Univ, Fresno; California State Univ, Fresno mkatti@csufresno.edu

Cities are unique ecosystems where human social-economic-cultural activities prominently shape the landscape, influencing the distribution and abundance of other species, and consequent patterns of biodiversity. The long-term sustainability of cities is of increasing concern as they continue to grow, straining infrastructure and pushing against natural resources constraints. A key resource is water, esp. in the more rapidly urbanizing arid regions. Understanding water management is thus critical for a deeper theoretical understanding of urban ecosystems and for effective urban policy. Landscaping and irrigation at any urban residence is a product of local geophysical/ecological conditions, homeowners’ cultural preferences, socioeconomic status, neighborhood dynamics, zoning laws, and city/state/federal regulations. Since landscape structure and water availability are key determinants of habitat for other species, urban biodiversity is strongly driven by the outcome of interactions between these variables. Yet the relative importance of ecological variables vs human socioeconomic variables in driving urban biodiversity remains poorly understood. Here we analyze data from the Fresno Bird Count, a citizen science project in California’s Central Valley, to show that spatial variation in bird diversity is best explained by a multivariate model including significant negative correlations with % building and grass cover, and positive correlations with interactions between irrigation intensity, median family income, and grass height. We discuss implications of our findings for urban water management policies in general, and for Fresno’s planned switch to metering water use in 2013. Ecological theory, conservation, and urban policy all benefit if we recognize cities as coupled socioecological systems.

If you’re in Seattle – at the ongoing SICB meeting even – at 11:40 AM on Wednesday this week, and need some mental stimulation before lunch, why not join the throng at the above talk?

Posted via web from a leaf warbler’s gleanings

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