Skip to Content


Tempe Town Lake sends message in a bottle

ASU Wrigley Institute News CAP LTER News

November 1, 2018

Man and woman standing near lake holding a bottle of lake waterTempe Town Lake has been a part of the city's landscape for over 19 years, and Hilairy Hartnett's lab has been measuring and collecting data there for the past 13.

With over 1,200 samples of water, Hartnett's work with the Central Arizona Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research Program hopes to better understand what it takes to maintain the ecological health of a man-made lake in one of the hottest regions of the United States.

The associate professor in Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Molecular Sciences spoke with ASU Now about her decade-plus sampling Tempe Town Lake. Read Hartnett's interview on ASU Now.


CAP LTER urban ecology work highlighted by Arizona PBS

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News CAP LTER News

October 15, 2018

2 people making measurements in desert with city skyline in the backgroundThe Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, was recently featured in an episode of “Catalyst” by Arizona PBS. The episode, “Desert animals in urban centers,” discussed current research about how natural environments (including plant and animal life) are affected by urban development.

Sharon Hall, a senior sustainability scientist who works with the CAP LTER, said that some plant and animal life continues to flourish within or nearby Phoenix.

"There's all these hidden spots around the city that nature is thriving,” said Hall. “If we can think about finding those areas and protecting them — or at least understanding them a bit better, maybe then we can try to make our landscape a little bit more friendly to the types of animals that . . . are living among us all the time."

Continue Reading


CAP LTER urban ecology program funded another four years

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News CAP LTER News

July 9, 2018

Two researchers stand in mud and hold cameras at Tres Rios, Arizona
Sally Wittlinger and Lindsey Rustad at Tres Rios, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Mark Watkins
For 20 years, Arizona State University’s Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research Program has been studying the Phoenix urban ecosystem from a holistic, interdisciplinary and social-ecological perspective. The National Science Foundation has funded CAP through grants since 1997 as part of its national network of 28 LTER sites. Recently, news broke that the fourth phase of CAP research will be fully funded through 2022.

“I was at a remote field camp in South Africa teaching my study abroad program when word came from the NSF that a decision had been made,” said Dan Childers, CAP’s director and School of Sustainability professor. “We didn’t even have cell service where we were, so I called our NSF program officer on a satellite phone. It was wonderful to get this very good news while in such a beautiful place!”

Much of the current CAP research is focused on urban ecological infrastructure, which is effectively everything except the built environment. The overarching goal of the program is to foster social-ecological research aimed at understanding complex urban ecosystems, using a holistic perspective while enhancing urban sustainability and resilience. The CAP research enterprise is organized around eight interdisciplinary research questions and includes nearly 60 ASU faculty from all four campuses, scientists from several other universities, and dozens of students and postdoctoral scholars.

Continue Reading

CAP LTER Seeking Postdoctoral Fellow


January 18, 2018

Tempe Town Lake at nightExplore opportunities for building positive futures by becoming a CAP LTER postdoctoral fellow. The fellow works with the Scenarios and Futures research team, focusing on scenario co-development and spatially-explicit scenario modeling of urban change under possible alternate future scenarios. He or she plays a key role in the scenario-development process, modeling, analysis and visualization.

The fellow’s postdoctoral research includes understanding trade-offs associated with possible interventions for social, ecological and technical domains of urban systems, as well as assessing how urban change will affect the future ability of ecosystems to provide services for sustainability, resilience and equity. Find additional details and apply here.

20th Annual Poster Symposium and All Scientists Meeting


November 17, 2017

Phoenix Night SkylineSave the date! CAP LTER will be holding its 20th Annual Poster Symposium and All Scientists Meeting on January 5th, 2018 at ASU's SkySong facility in Scottsdale. Weiqi Zhou, Professor in the State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, will be the keynote speaker. Dan Childers will give us an update on CAP LTER and there will be presentations by the leaders of the Integrated Research Teams.

Wisdom from the Director’s Lava Lamp

Director Notes CAP LTER News

February 8, 2017

Yellow lava lamp on a table along with a mug and business cardsDear CAPpers:

As we begin a new year, a new phase of CAP, and a strange new world, I have some news and important information to pass along.

First, many thanks to Mark, Cindy, and everyone else who helped make our 2017 All Scientist Meeting such a success. Final head count was more than 100 attendees! I received a great deal of positive feedback about Diane’s excellent and very timely plenary talk, Nancy’s insightful infrastructure talk, and the wonderful collection of fire-talks we had about CAP modelling efforts. The posters were equally impressive.

Speaking of the posters, here are the results of our student poster contest (drumroll, please)... And the Winner of the 2017 CAP Student Poster Contest is Megan Wheeler, who presented “Residential soil water model evaluation to improve outdoor water use recommendations in Phoenix, Arizona” with Sharon Hall and Enrique Vivoni! Congratulations, Megan! You won up to $500 towards your travel to a conference where you present your CAP data!

Continue Reading

Undergraduate research opportunities at LTER sites


January 5, 2016

Searching for black widows at night.The Ecological Society of America's SEEDS initiative, which aims to increase diversity in the field of ecology, is recruiting undergraduate students from underrepresented groups for the SPUR fellowship program. This program places students at ecological research sites across the United States. Several LTER sites are part of the SPUR fellowship program this year: Central Arizona-Phoenix (CAP) LTER, Harvard Forest LTER, Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER, Cedar Creek LTER, and Kellogg Biological Station LTER. An additional site is the Llado River Field Station in Texas.

Students accepted as SPUR fellows will engage in a research project at one of these research sites under the mentorship of a faculty member, senior graduate student, or post-doctoral fellow. SPUR fellows will receive funding for travel and housing as well as a subsistence stipend.

To view the application requirements and apply, interested undergraduate students should visit the SPUR fellowship page on the SEEDS website. Applications are due January 15, 2016.

High school girls learn coding


November 2, 2015

Highschool Girls Learn CodingA group of high school girls in Mesa Public Schools spent their fall break learning to code in R, a computer language used for statistical analysis. This workshop was the brainchild of Jessica Guo, a CAP graduate student, who is passionate about coding and determined to bring more girls into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). A graduate of Mesa Public Schools herself, Jessica is part of the ASU/NASA Space Grant program.

In the workshop that Jessica led, girls accessed large, publicly-available datasets and used coding to analyze the data and to create graphs, which they presented to their peers. Among the datasets that the girls used were ones created by LTER Network sites.





CAP Co-Sponsors Light Pollution Conference


October 7, 2015

IDALight pollution is a critical ecological issue in the city, which has gotten little attention. CAP is co-sponsoring the International Dark Sky Association’s (IDA) annual meeting in Scottsdale, November 14-15, which is focusing on "Impacts of Artificial Night Lighting on Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Mitigating Role of Emerging Lighting Technologies.” IDA advocates for the reduction of light pollution and promotes the use of lighting products that have lesser impacts on biota and the environment.


Trees and lawns curb excessive urban heat


October 7, 2015

A recent ASU News article on the role of trees and lawns in urban heat island featured CAP scientists Ben Ruddell, Ariane Middel, and Nancy Selover. Shade provided by trees has been long acknowledged as providing some relief from high daytime temperatures in the Valley of the Sun. The team of ASU scientists has worked to quantify the effects of different types of shade on urban microclimates and how much shade is needed to reduce daytime temperatures. This is very useful information for homeowners, designers, architects and others wanting to know just how much shade they need.

SESYNC-LTER Postdoctoral Fellowships


October 7, 2015

Attention all Post-docs! Looking for a LTER fellowship? Apply for a two year postdoctoral fellowship today with The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in collaboration with the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program beginning August 1st, 2016.

-Prescreening application deadline is October 26, 2015, 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

-Collaborating Mentor application deadline: October 26, 2015, 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

-Collaborating Mentor selection and commitment deadline: November 16, 2015, 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).

-Fellowship application deadline: December 7, 2015, 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Click here to find more information on SESYNC-LTER and the fellowship criteria.

Director Notes June 2015

Director Notes

June 12, 2015

Nancy GrimmDear CAP Colleagues, Students, and Friends,

We’re heading into summer with some exciting synthesis research funded and underway! Several groups of CAP scientists will analyze long-term data to address specific scientific questions. We expect these projects will contribute greatly to the development of the CAP-IV proposal. 

The projects and teams are:

  • Using the Survey 200 data to discern influences of climate, plant communities, and land use on decadal patterns of soil properties (Becky Ball and Sharon Hall)
  • Studying the structure of food webs and biodiversity patterns, and how they change with land use and climate anomalies (Dan Allen, Heather Bateman, Chris Martin, John Sabo, Jean Stutz, Albert Ruhi)
  • How has urbanization in riparian zones on two major streams affected ecosystem service provision? (Dan Allen, Ben Ruddell, Nancy Grimm, Billie Turner, and Xiaoxiao Li)
  • Using long-term land cover data to understand how metrics of spatial patterning have changed (WenWen Li and Libby Wentz)
  • Statistical synthesis of long-term climatic and land use/land cover datasets (Zhihua Wang and Soe Myint)
  • Relating long-term changes in urban biodiversity with changes in human perception and management (Paige Warren, Kelli Larson, Heather Bateman, Susannah Lerman, Sharon Hall, Christofer Bang)
  • Determining residential landscaping water requirements in the CAP ecosystem using a water balance model and long-term, experimental yard datasets (Sharon Hall, Enrique Vivoni, and Kelli Larson)
  • Synthesis of longitudinal land cover analysis and long term social and environmental trends (Ray Quay, Sharon Hall, Sharon Harlan, Billie Turner, Kelli Larson, Ben Ruddell, Yujia Zhang, and Xiaoxiao Li)
  • Time-series analysis of Tempe Town Lake biogeochemistry (Hilairy Hartnett, Monica Palta, and Albert Ruhi)
  • Impacts of haboobs and dust storms on the chemistry of Tempe Town Lake, bringing together long-term datasets on atmospheric and aquatic chemistry (Hilairy Hartnett and Pierre Herckes)

In addition, we have five graduate student projects funded through our Grad Grants program, which will also contribute to the corpus of research syntheses we have to work with as we gear up for the renewal. Congratulations to these graduate students:

  •  Chao Fan – developing new analytical tools to describe urban sprawl and exploring its relationship with the urban heat island
  • Ben MacNeille –bacterial communities of the phyllosphere and their mitigation of atmospheric pollution
  • Julie Ripplinger – Bottom up and top down social and ecological controls of residential plant communities, using Survey 200 data
  • Melinda Weaver – how urban stresses alter behavior of house finches
  • Qunshan Zhao – relationship of urban heat island to roof materials

    Research in residential landscapes is a key components of CAP's urban ecology research program
    Stevan conducting fieldwork!

Since my last note, a lot has happened – especially comings and goings. Stevan Earl has stepped down as CAP Site Manager, assuming a position as Data Manager for GIOS. In that capacity, he will continue to work with CAP scientists on getting their data into the database (please put your data into the database!). We welcome Sally Wittlinger, as of May 18, as our new Site Manager! Sally brings a wealth of experience in program and lab management and comes to us most recently from DCDC. Look for a more thorough introduction after she begins work. Our CAP student worker, Mary Munoz Encinas, is graduating from ASU in a few days. Mary has been behind the scenes entering biota data as well as completing her own work using our urban shade tree data.Congratulations to Mary!

Here are some additional CAP LTER highlights:

  • We had another very successful and well-attended All Scientists meeting in January, with Kathy Jacobs (formerly Director of the National Climate Assessment and now Director of the UA’s Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions) as our keynote speaker and a distinguished panel discussing the future of Phoenix.
  • Planning for the CAP-IV proposal is well underway with Dan Childers at the helm.
  • Survey 200 is well underway. We are especially grateful to Lindsey Pollard, who stepped in when Stevan moved to the IT group to ably coordinate the survey.
  • Dr David Hulse visited ASU to deliver a special CAP seminar on his excellent work on future scenarios for the Willamette River Basin in Oregon.
  • Congratulations to Tony Brazel and Kerry Smith, who were awarded CAP LTER research awards and were honored at a small gathering in April.
  • ASU is a recommended recipient of two of the three Sustainability Research Networks (SRN) awards (expected start in late summer/early fall). ASU is the lead institution of the first, the Urban Resilience to Extremes (UREx) SRN (Charles Redman, PI, Nancy Grimm and Mikhail Chester, co-PIs), and is a subawardee for the Urban Water Innovation Network (U-WIN) SRN led by Colorado State (Matt Georgescu, co-PI). Both proposal strongly leveraged CAP. However, both are pending at this writing!
  • CAP recently submitted an equipment proposal to replace a vehicle and partially support the acquisition of a new gas chromatograph for trace-gas analysis.
  • CAP (Phoenix) is again on the drawing board as a potential urban ‘relocatable’ site for NEON – stay tuned.
  • Since last writing, three graduate students affiliated with CAP have or are in the process of defending their dissertations/theses. Join me in congratulating the following:

    • Thomas Bleasdale defended his dissertation, “Gardens of justice: Food-based social movement in south and west Phoenix,” on April 16th (Sharon Harlan, Chair; Bob Bolin and Kevin McHugh, committee members)
    • Hannah Heavenrich will defend her thesis, “Soil biogeochemical consequences of a ‘sustainable’ urban grassland to shrubland transition,” on May 13th (Sharon Hall, Chair; Kelli Larson and Diane Pataki, committee members)
    • Jeffrey Ackley will defend his dissertation, “Rich lizards: How affluence, land cover, and the urban heat island effect influence desert reptiles persisting in an urban landscape,” on May 15th (Jianguo Wu and Brian Sullivan, co-chairs; Soe Myint, Dale Denardo, and Michael Angilletta, committee members)

  • CAP REU student, Jessica Jia, successfully defended her Honor’s Thesis, “Quantifying the trade-off between landscape vegetation height, surface temperature, and water consumption in single-family residential houses for a desert city,” this spring (Kelli Larson and Elizabeth Wentz, co-chairs). Congrats to Jessica as well!

 A little news about me: Although I will be taking sabbatical during the 2015-2016 academic year, I will mostly be here (staybatical) and will continue to lead CAP in collaboration with Dan, as we begin the process of transitioning leadership. I will also be very busy helping to get the new UREx SRN project underway. In June, I will spend a week at Kellogg Biological Station (one of our sister LTERs) as an ‘eminent ecologist’ (their title) in residence. I will spend a bit of time in New Mexico throughout the year, and have plans for a 4-6-week stay in Stockholm at the Resilience Center late next spring. But I will be completely available for all things CAP, so send me email or give me a call at any time.

Finally, congratulations and thanks go to the authors of the 18 journal articles that have appeared since my December update. These papers are listed below. Please do let us know if we’ve missed any, and as always, remember to keep Cindy and Marcia informed of new journal articles, book chapters, books, or noteworthy presentations—and to acknowledge CAP in your publications.

I wish each of you a productive and relaxing summer.



Publications since my December 2014 Director Note:

Abbott, J. K., H. A. Klaiber and V. K. Smith. 2015. Economic behavior, market signals, and urban ecology. NBER Working Paper Series, Working Paper 20959. (link)

Ackley, J. W., M. J. Angilletta Jr., D. DeNardo, B. Sullivan and J. Wu. 2015. Urban heat island mitigation strategies and lizard thermal ecology: Landscaping can quadruple potential activity time in an arid city. Urban Ecosystems DOI: 10.1007/s11252-015-0460-x. (link)

Ackley, J. W., J. Wu, M. Angilletta, S. W. Myint and B. Sullivan. 2015. Rich lizards: How affluence and land cover influence the diversity and abundance of desert reptiles persisting in an urban landscape. Biological Conservation 182:87-92. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.11.009. (link)

Bestelmeyer, S. V., M. M. Elser, K. V. Spellman, E. B. Sparrow, S. S. Haan-Amato and A. Keener. 2015. Collaboraton, interdisciplinary thinking, and communication: New approaches to K-12 ecology education. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13(1):37-43. DOI: 10.1890/140130. (link)

Childers, D. L., M. L. Cadenasso, J. M. Grove, V. Marshall, B. McGrath and S. T. Pickett. 2015. An ecology for cities: A transformational nexus of design and ecology to advance climate change resilience and urban sustainability. Sustainability 7(4):3774-3791. DOI: 10.3390/su7043774. (link)

Gifford, M., J. Liu, B. E. Rittmann, R. Vannela and P. Westerhoff. 2015. Phosphorus recovery from microbial biofuel residual using microwave peroxide digestion and anion exchange. Water Research70:130-137. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2014.11.052. (link)

Ibes, D. C. 2015. A multidimensional classification and equity analysis of an urban park system: A new methodology and case study application. Landscape and Urban Planning 137:122-137. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.12.014. (link)

Marusenko, Y. Y., F. Garcia-Pichel and S. J. Hall. 2015. Ammonia-oxidizing archaea respond positively to inorganic nitrogen addition in desert soils. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 91(2):1-11. DOI: 10.1093/femsec/fiu023. (link)

McHale, M., S. Pickett, O. Barbosa, D. Bunn, M. Cadenasso, D. Childers, M. Gartin, G. Hess, D. Iwaniec, T. McPhearson, M. Peterson, A. Poole, L. Rivers, S. Shutters, and W. Zhou. 2015. The new global urban realm: Complex, connected, diffuse, and diverse social-ecological systems. Sustainability 7: 5211-5240. (link)

Metson, G. S., D. M. Iwaniec, L. A. Baker, E. M. Bennett, D. L. Childers, D. Cordell, N. B. Grimm, J. M. Grove, D. A. Nidzgorski and S. White. 2015. Urban phosphorus sustainability: Systematically incorporating social, ecological, and technological factors into phosphorus flow analysis.Environmental Science & Policy 47:1-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2014.10.005. (link)

Rudd, B. T. and H. L. Bateman. 2015. Reptile use of trails in the Phoenix mountain parks. Herpetological Review 46(1):15-17.

Shaffer, S. R., W. T. Chow, M. Georgescu, P. Hyde, G. D. Jenerette, A. Mahalov, M. Moustaoui and B. L. Ruddell. 2015. Multiscale modeling and evaluation of urban surface energy balance in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 54:322-338. DOI: 10.1175/JAMC-D-14-0051.1. (link)

Shuster, W. D., S. D. Dadio, C. E. Burkman, S. R. Earl and S. J. Hall. 2015. Hydropedological assessment of parcel-level infiltration in an arid urban ecosystem. Soil Science Society of America Journal Open Access. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2014.05.0200. (link)

Volo, T. J., E. R. Vivoni and B. L. Ruddell. 2015. An ecohydrological approach to conserving urban water through optimized landscape irrigation schedules. Landscape and Urban Planning 133:127-132. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.09.012. (link)

Wang, Z. H. 2014. A new perspective of urban-rural differences: The impact of soil water advection. Urban Climate 10: 19-34. (link)

Wang, Z. H. 2014. Monte Carlo simulations of radiative heat exchange in a street canyon with trees. Solar Energy 110: 704-713. (link)

White, D. D., A. Y. Wutich, K. L. Larson and T. Lant. 2015. Water management decision makers’ evaluations of uncertainty in a decision support system: The case of WaterSim in the Decision Theater. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 58(4):616-630. DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2013.875892. (link)

Yang, J., and Z. H. Wang. 2014. Physical parameterization and sensitivity of urban hydrological models: Application to green roof systems. Building and Environment 75: 250-263. (link)

Anthony Brazel and V. Kerry Smith honored for contributions to urban socioecological research

Uncategorized CAP LTER News

May 13, 2015

Anthony Brazel
Anthony Brazel

V. Kerry Smith
V. Kerry Smith

Anthony Brazel, Emeritus Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and V. Kerry Smith, Emeritus Regents' Professor and Emeritus Professor of Economics, WP Carey School of Economics, were recently honored for their contributions to urban socioecological research in the CAP LTER research program.

Dr. Brazel, an urban climatologist, has been the driving force behind research on the Phoenix urban heat island, collaborating across disciplines with faculty and students at Arizona State University as well as with colleagues at the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, CAP's sister urban LTER site. His research has led to Phoenix being the most studied urban heat island in the United States, and his former students now staff numerous climate-related agencies.

Dr. Smith is a renowned  environmental economist whose work with CAP has focused on the economic valuation of environmental amenities and ecosystem services, contributing important new perspectives to CAP's research program. He has also collaborated on the Phoenix Area Social Survey and has been an important mentor to students interested in entering the economics field.

Grads and undergrads defend theses and dissertations

Uncategorized CAP LTER News

May 13, 2015

Spring brings a lot of things, including thesis and dissertation defenses. The following have either successfully completed or will be completing their defenses this spring:

  • Thomas Bleasdale defended his dissertation, “Gardens of justice: Food-based social movement in south and west Phoenix,” on April 16th (Sharon Harlan, Chair; Bob Bolin and Kevin McHugh, committee members)
  • Hannah Heavenrich will defend her thesis, “Soil biogeochemical consequences of a ‘sustainable’ urban grassland to shrubland transition,” on May 13th (Sharon Hall, Chair; Kelli Larson and Diane Pataki, committee members)
  • Jeffrey Ackley will defend his dissertation, “Rich lizards: How affluence, land cover, and the urban heat island effect influence desert reptiles persisting in an urban landscape,” on May 15th (Jianguo Wu and Brian Sullivan, co-chairs; Soe Myint, Dale Denardo, and Michael Angilletta, committee members)

  • CAP REU student, Jessica Jia, successfully defended her Honor’s Thesis, “Quantifying the trade-off between landscape vegetation height, surface temperature, and water consumption in single-family residential houses for a desert city,” this spring (Kelli Larson and Elizabeth Wentz, co-chairs).

Congratulations to all of these students!


17th Annual CAP ASM and poster symposium

Uncategorized CAP LTER News

January 15, 2015

We are excited to be presenting our 17th annual CAP ASM and poster symposium on January 16th from 8 am - 4 pm at ASU SkySong, Building 3, Synergy I and II rooms. The program lists the agenda for the day and abstracts for the over 50 posters being presented, which is a record for CAP symposiums. We will be printing a limited number of programs and hope that most attendees will access abstracts and other information electronically.

Attendees should note that we will be in a new space at SkySong this year. Building 3 is to your right when you enter on SkySong Boulevard. We urge attendees to carpool (parking is to the south of Building 3), bike, or take the 72 bus from the Tempe Transit Center. The Synergy I and II rooms are accessed via the lobby of Building 3. Just follow the signage.

Urban ecology research featured at ESA

Uncategorized CAP LTER News

August 14, 2014


Research in residential landscapes is a key components of CAP's urban ecology research program
Research in residential landscapes is a key component of CAP's urban ecology research program

The Ecological Society of America held its annual meeting in Sacramento from August 10-15, 2014. CAP was well represented at this meeting by several scientists and students. Below are the sessions in which students and scientists presented CAP-related research.

Convergence of microclimate across diverse cities in the US CAP presenters: Sharon Hall and Kelli Larson

Climate change, ecosystem services, and biogeochemical cycles CAP presenter: Nancy Grimm

Climate change, ecosystems, biodiversity and ecosystem services CAP presenter: Nancy Grimm

Homogenization of plant diversity in six major USA cites: Integrating socio-economic, environmental, and phylogenetic information CAP presenters: Sharon Hall and Kelli Larson

Enhancing Urban Sustainability: Social and Ecological Dimensions CAP presenters: Dan Childers and Melissa Davidson

Urban Ecosystems I CAP presenters: Sharon Hall, Kelli Larson, Julie Ripplinger, and Janet Franklin

Cross-taxa comparative analysis of long-term community data CAP presenter: Julie Ripplinger

Novel flow regimes and novel plant communities: strategies of urban-adapted riparian plants CAP presenter: Julie Stromberg

Moving from the ecology of cities to ecology for cities: Integrating urban ecology, design, and decision-making for urban sustainability CAP presenters: Dan Childers and Melissa Davidson

Sustainability: Urban Systems CAP presenters: Melissa McHale and Nancy Grimm

Carbon Lost vs. carbon gained:  A study of carbon tradeoffs among land uses in Phoenix, AZ, reveals the inadequacy of statistical spatial scaling techniques and the need for new methodologies for understanding carbon dynamics across cities CAP presenters: Nancy Grimm, Ananda Majumdar, and Melissa McHale

When the economic engine stalls: An examination of plant communities in post-recession urban landscapes CAP presenters: Julie Ripplinger and Janet Franklin

Park equity: It's about process, not just outcomes

Uncategorized CAP LTER News

August 5, 2014

Dean Chris Boone
ASU School of Sustainability Dean Chris Boone is a CAP LTER co-PI

CAP scientist Chris Boone recently gave a presentation in Los Angeles at the Park Equity Symposium. His presentation, "It’s about process, not just outcomes," was videotaped and is now available on YouTube. It details research Boone and colleagues at the Baltimore Ecosystem Study have done on park equity in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. In his presentation, Boone states that just distribution of and access to parks is laudable but is insufficient to meet standards of justice. Any analysis of park equity must include an assessment of process, including the fairness of institutions, decision-making, and representation. Park equity assessment should include present and past processes since historical decisions can have lasting effects.

Boone and colleagues have also researched park equity in Phoenix, which will be published in an upcoming volume on CAP LTER science, edited by Charles Redman, the co-founder of the CAP research program with current CAP director, Nancy Grimm.

Request for student proposals on conserving desert mountain parks

Uncategorized CAP LTER News

July 28, 2014

The goal of the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance Student Research Grants program is to support research that assists land managers in making informed decisions about natural and cultural resources of the City of Phoenix Desert Mountain Parks and Preserves, Maricopa County Regional Parks, and City of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  To that end, we encourage applied and/or usable basic research that 1) fills gaps in the ecological, social, and cultural understanding of Preserve resources, and 2) addresses specific management issues.  Preference will be given to projects addressing human impact, developing indicators and standards for resource protection, local and regional benefits derived by preserve/open space park systems, assessing wildlife corridors/connectivity/linkages, climate change and/or urban heat island effects, and species inventories. Grants will be for up to $2,500 for individual research proposals or for up to $5,000 to support collaborative research projects.

For 2014 grants, the deadline for application is 9/2/2014. Awards will be announced by 9/15/2014.


The Central Arizona Conservation Alliance (CAZCA) is a collaboration of land managers, scientists, educators, community members, and conservation-based non-profit organizations committed to focusing collective expertise on the ecological and recreational sustainability of the mountain parks/preserves in and around the Valley. The Alliance believes that community engagement in the study, restoration, and promotion of these preserves will be critical to its success.

Partners in the CAZCA are: Desert Botanical Garden (as coordinating institution); Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department; City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department- Natural Resources Division; McDowell Sonoran Conservancy; Audubon Arizona; Phoenix Mountains Preservation Council; and Arizona State University’s Central Arizona Long-term Ecological research project (CAP LTER), School of Life Sciences, School of Community Resources and Development, and Center for Biodiversity Outcomes. The partnership’s focal preserves are City of Phoenix Desert Mountain Parks and Preserves, Maricopa County Regional Parks, and City of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The goal of the Student Research Grants program is to support research that assists land managers in making informed decisions about the natural and cultural resources of the Preserves. To that end, we encourage applied and/or usable basic scientific and scholarly research that 1) fills gaps in the ecological, social, and cultural understanding of Preserve resources, and 2) addresses specific management issues.  Grants will be for up to $2,500 for individual research proposals or for up to $5,000 to support collaborative research projects.


Grant recipients must be self-directed individuals whose work will contribute to the scientific knowledge of the natural and cultural resource of our local desert mountain preserves. CAZCA’s Research Grants support research in the biological, physical, social, and cultural sciences. We welcome proposals from across the study areas listed above, but 2014 priority will be given to research with opportunities for community engagement and which focus toward

  • human impact
  • developing indicators and standards for resource protection
  • local and regional benefits derived by preserve/open space park systems
  • wildlife corridors/connectivity/linkages
  • climate change and/or urban heat island effects
  • species inventories

CAZCA Grants are designed to support funding for graduate students, but may also be appropriate for undergraduate students. Researchers must have study sites on one or more of these preserves. Collaborative projects across two or more preserves/parks is encouraged.

Recipients must complete their work within one year of receiving grant funds, have some public outreach component to their work, and provide a final report and presentation to the partnership.

Allowable expenses

Funds may be used for a variety of purposes including but not limited to materials/supplies, local travel directly related to field work, and lab fees. Requests for permanent equipment are not encouraged, but will be considered. Any permanent equipment purchased with grant funds remains the property of the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance and will need to be returned at the end of the project. Funds may not be used for tuition, student fees, institutional overhead, course textbooks/materials, thesis preparation, publication of results, costs associated with attendance to professional meetings, or fringe benefits.

Provisional acceptance pending research permit

Grant funding is provisional until a research and collecting permit is approved and issued for each study site. Being awarded a grant is NOT A GUARANTEE that a research and collecting permit will be issued for work in a park/preserve as written in the proposal. Modification of methods or sites may be necessary. Grant recipients are encouraged to submit the application for a research and collecting permit for work in a park/preserve as soon as possible. Prior to issuing a permit, land management staff will review the project for compliance with policies and administrative concerns.

Requirements of award winners

Fulfill all conditions of the park/preserve research permit.

Awardees are required to provide the following to the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance Program Coordinator (Stacie Beute) within three months after the completion of field work.

  1. At least one public outreach product such as public participation in the research itself, a talk at a nature center, or a poster, fact sheet, classroom activity to share the research process and results. If a talk is given, please share plans for study, observations to date, and similar projects already completed. Please discuss tentative choice for public outreach with CAZCA’s program coordinator Stacie Beute.
  2. Provide electronic final report to include: intro, methods, results, discussion, relevance to management, literature cited, and acknowledgements or thesis/dissertation as appropriate.
  3. Send several digital photos of researcher/field work in progress with captions for photos in a separate word document

Application instructions

Applicants must submit the following documents via email to Central Arizona Conservation Alliance Program Coordinator Stacie Beute ( by 6pm Tuesday, September 2, 2014.

  1. An abstract of the proposed research endeavor and its relevance to Preserve land managers. The abstract should state the central research objective/question and methods to be employed. (250 word maximum)
  2. A research proposal (2 pages maximum, 12-point font, single spaced) to include the following sections, with headings:

  • Project title
  • An introductory section that briefly reviews current literature on the proposed topic to provide context for and importance of the research objective/question. Research objectives or question
  • A description of the research design including methods and data analysis
  • A discussion of expected results and/or predictions
  • A description of the significance of the proposed work to park management issues or resources (see review criteria #3 below)
  • Proposed research sites
  • Lists for logistical help in the park, i.e. camping in the backcountry, temporary work and/or storage space, access by private vehicle, etc

  1. Literature Cited (2 page maximum)
  2. Project budget and justification with detailed categories and narrative of justification. Categories:

  • Materials/supplies
  • Local travel
  • Laboratory fees
  • Equipment (if approved, see Allowable Expenses section)
  • Other (with details)

  1. A curriculum vitae or resume that lists research experience
  2. A letter of support from a faculty or academic advisor

 Review criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel and award decisions will be made and communicated by 9/15/2014. The following criteria will be important in determining which projects are funded:

  1. Completeness of application
  2. Intellectual merit (overall quality of the science proposed and feasibility of the research)
  3. Significance of the project to preserve/park management issues or resources, i.e. does it help managers make decisions about critical issues? Does it provide missing resource information or help set targets or indicators of desired resource condition?
  4. Educational outreach component, i.e. does the applicant clearly suggest outreach component(s)? Is the outreach creative and useful to the preserve/park?


Contact Information

To ask questions, submit proposals, discuss logistics, or discuss public outreach components, contact:

Stacie Beute, Conservation Alliance Program Coordinator, Desert Botanical Garden or 480.481.8187.

Bringing environmental education to children in low-income communities

Uncategorized CAP LTER News

July 16, 2014

Undergraduates Alexis Roeckner and Lauren Gault present interactive environmental education lessons at Homeward Bound
Undergraduates Alexis Roeckner and Lauren Gault present interactive environmental education lessons at Homeward Bound.


In Fall 2013 CAP's Ecology Explorers program began a partnership with Homeward Bound, an organization that provides transitional housing, employment services, and other forms of support to low-income families with children that are homeless, recently evicted, or fleeing a domestic violence situation. Under the direction of CAP education coordinator, Gina Hupton, undergraduate and graduate students have been designing and delivering environmental education lessons to pre-school and lower elementary level students through Homeward Bound's after school program. More ...