Professor Arizona State University, Arizona, United States
Abstract: Understanding urban ecosystems has motivated CAP for 25 years and will continue to inspire us in the next six-year phase of our research. The concept of urban ecological infrastructure (UEI) is central to our work, and we organize our research around a UEI hybridity gradient from completely ecological features to largely built features. The CAP central question articulates how human-environment interactions control the reciprocal relationships connecting human perceptions, motivations, and behaviors associated with UEI to urban ecosystem structure and function. Our focus on these human-environment interactions is on spatial and social-ecological heterogeneity and the ecosystem services and disservices (ES/EDS) provided by a diverse array of UEI. Human-environment interactions include the design, construction, and management of the city as our habitat. Environment-human interactions include changes in ecological patterns and processes, and the myriad ways people respond to ES/EDS as they perceive and experience them, and the resultant decisions that they make. Our central conceptual framework depicts the heterogeneity domains in which CAP research operates: Spatial and process heterogeneity, social-ecological heterogeneity, and UEI hybridity. In this presentation we will overview CAP contributions to urban ecology since 1997 in the context of this new conceptual framework. New CAP research also has a stronger focus on environmental justice, equity, and working with marginalized communities in Phoenix, including local Indigenous tribes.
The five research questions guiding our research map to the heterogeneity domains of our conceptual framework. Two are largely ecological, with an ecosystems and eco-evolutionary focus. Two are interdisciplinary and use a social-ecological lens to explore urban heat, air quality and environmental justice and how interactions with nature affect the perceptions, management decisions, and wellbeing of urban residents. Our fifth research question has a predominantly social focus on governance, institutions, and future scenarios at a range of spatial scales. We will highlight research findings that underpin these five research questions and thus demonstrate how CAP research has advanced urban ecological theory, social-ecological theory, and the successful inclusion of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in multiple facets of urban ecological research. We will use preliminary findings from our five research questions to demonstrate how CAP scientists are advancing an urban ecology for all, including urban residents, while building transformational capacities to help central Arizona communities overcome legacies of neglect, inequity, disinvestment, and injustice.