A large number of conservation biologists (what is the collective pronoun for such? gaggle? confabulation? murmuration? murder?) have flocked to Baltimore this week for the 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology (#ICCB2013 on twitter). This includes a number of my colleagues and friends with whom I had helped put together a symposium on urban biodiversity. Kaberi and I were initially planning to be back in the US in time to attend this conference, but aren’t able to because we have too many things to get done here in India before winding up this sabbatical. As such, this is yet another conference I must miss (like ESA 2012), and given that the internet connectivity is rather slow and flaky, I haven’t even able to participate in the twitter conversation in the backchannel (unlike last year). I’ll try to be online during our session this thursday, and will tweet/retweet as and when I can in the meantime.
While the Congress does have a (quite busy) twitter hashtag, and should be pretty good for communication overall, their website leaves something to be desired : you can download the entire program and book of abstracts in a big PDF, but session details and individual paper abstracts are not available online, and (as of this writing), only the symposia for Monday and Tuesday are visible via the Program and Special Events link. Nevertheless, here are the details of our symposium this Thursday, which I hope those of you in Baltimore will be up for, bright and shiny in the AM:
Symposium: The Role of Urban Green Spaces in Maintaining Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Thursday, July 25, 08:00 to 10:00
Organizer(s): Christopher Lepczyk, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Myla Aronson, Rutgers University; Paige Warren, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Madhusudan Katti, California State University, Fresno; Charles Nilon, University of Missouri, Columbia
Urban areas are typically considered novel ecosystems, filled with non-native species and having few positive attributes. However, urban ecosystems are not homogenous entities in that they contain a variety of habitat types, many of which have value to conservation. One habitat type of particular relevance for conservation is green space. Urban green spaces vary markedly in terms of meaning, ranging from remnant habitat to managed parks to gardens. However, the unifying aspect of such green spaces is that they can offer critical habitat to many species of plants and animals, provide locations for people to experience nature, and provide a number of important ecosystem services. Hence, the theme of this symposium is to bring together a group of prominent scientists and practicioners to address the role urban green spaces play in maintaining biodiversity, providing ecosystem services, and enhance human well-being. Because green spaces are used and experienced by so many different people and species, understanding them requires both social and ecological components as well as the stakeholders involved in them.
08:00 Contributions of green roofs to urban biodiversity J. Scott MacIvor, York University
08:15 Spatial and temporal urbanisation gradients– are they interchangeable? Karl Evans, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
08:30 Sustainability begins at home: Backyard habitats for birds and people Susannah Lerman, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
08:45 Which is the better green space? A comparison of traditional grass lawn and waterwise gardens in a semi-desert urban landscape Kaberi Kar Gupta, California State University, Fresno
09:00 Vacant land conversion to community gardens: influences on generalist arthropod predators and biocontrol services in urban greenspaces Mary Gardiner, Cleveland State University
09:15 Using Citizen Science and community partnerships as tools for studying urban stopover habitats in Milwaukee, WI Tim Vargo, Urban Ecology Center
09:30 Portland-Vancouver ULTRA-Ex: Analyzing the connection between governance and environmental quality in urban ecosystems Alan Yeakley, Portland State University
09:45 Synthesis: the value of green spaces to conservation Christopher A. Lepczyk, University of Hawaii at Manoa
My co-conspirators and I are planning to write a synthesis paper drawing together the presentations in this symposium, and as part of that process, I’ve asked everyone to share their talks online (on figshare or slideshare). I will share all of those here as they become available. Kaberi’s talk on our work in Fresno’s residential yards (the slides for which she is polishing at the moment) will be delivered by one of my co-organizers. Meanwhile, if you are in Baltimore, do drop in on the symposium, at least on my behalf! And if you do go, please drop me a line here in the comments below, especially if you have any questions or thoughts.