Session: Biogeochemistry: Linking Community Structure And Ecosystem Function
Implications of yard management and plant community diversity on ecosystem services in mature residential landscapes
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
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Jesse C. Jones, Eben Broadbent, Olesya Malakhova, Kacey A. Russo and Basil V. Iannone III, School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, Vitor Vieira Vasconcelos, Center of Engineering, Modelling and Applied Social Sciences, Federal University of ABC, São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, Adam G. Dale, Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, M. Jennison Kipp, Nicholas W. Taylor, Ricky Telg and Wendy L. Wilber, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, Jiangxiao Qiu, School of Forest Resources & Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Jesse C. Jones
School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences, University of Florida Gainesville, Florida, United States
Background/Question/Methods The benefits humans receive from the biosphere and its ecological processes, known as ecosystem services, are categorized by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment as regulating, provisioning, supporting, and cultural services. In urban environments, humans manage landscapes to manifest desired ecosystem services. Collective prioritization of cultural services, such as aesthetics and utility, has led to socio-normative adoption of the conventional suburban residential landscape at the expense of other vital ecosystem services (e.g. wildlife support, nutrient cycling, pollution mitigation, food production). Minimal research has focused on whether conventional urban landscape designs (e.g. monoculture turf lawns, nonnative ornamental plants) with intensive management (e.g. irrigation, chemical inputs) achieve desired cultural services better than their less-manicured counterparts. Our research framework investigates the influence of management practices, plant community diversity (richness, composition, structure, spatial heterogeneity), herbivory, and soil fertility on ecosystem services. We hypothesize that resource-intensive residential landscapes do not confer advantages in harnessing cultural ecosystem services such as aesthetics and utility. Due to economic and environmental burdens, we also test the hypothesis that management intensity is negatively associated with ecosystem services related to native biodiversity, soil fertility, and cooling. Through assembling an interdisciplinary project team spanning the expertise necessary to develop comprehensive socio-ecological sampling protocols, this study pairs social surveys of homeowners with field surveys and LiDAR of their yards. The data covers 30 mature residential yards across 4 socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods in Gainesville, Florida, USA. Results/Conclusions Initial observations suggest landscape management intensity has a strong negative association with biodiversity in lawns and yard-scale herbivory. Self-reported maintenance practices also corresponded to field observations of plant community diversity. Analysis of soil particle size distributions showed homogeneity across all study plots suggesting no effect on variation in plant communities. Further analyses will reveal how landscape management and plant community diversity lead to outcomes such as soil fertility, canopy cooling, and perceived yard aesthetics and utility. These results will enable improved understanding of socio-ecological effects on ecosystem services and evaluate the efficacy of residential landscaping practices in delivering important ecosystem services to homeowners. Our research findings will guide the development of sustainable landscaping principles that maximize ecosystem services while minimizing costs and resource use.