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CAP co-sponsoring Arizona Riparian Council meeting on urban rivers

February 20, 2013

The Arizona Riparian Council is holding its annual meeting on April 4-6, 2013 in the Convergence Room at ASU SkySong in Scottsdale. The theme of the meeting is "Sustaining Urban Rivers -- Visions and Actions across the Southwest: Application for the Salt River through the Phoenix Metro Area." The program includes presentations, field trips, and a poster session. Please visit the Arizona Riparian Council website for registration and poster abstract submission information.


CAP graduate student presents climate justice research

February 19, 2013

CAP Ph.D. student Juan Declet-Barreto presented research on vegetation and the urban heat island recently to a seminar of Fulbright scholars held in Phoenix. Declet-Barreto noted that a lack of vegetation in poor Latino neighborhoods drives up temperatures in the already hot summers in the Phoenix area. Planting desert-adapted trees can mitigate this heat. Declet-Barreto's research is a part of CAP's ongoing investigations of the urban heat island and the Urban Vulnerability to Climate Change project, funded through a separate grant from the National Science Foundation.



2013 student poster winners announced

February 19, 2013

The 2013 winners of the CAP ASM student poster competition have been announced.

First Place: Elizabeth Cook, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University.

Runners-up: David Huber, Department of Biological Sciences, Idaho State University; Kevin Kane, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University.

Congratulations to all of these winners. Please see full poster citations and links to the posters below.

Cook, Elizabeth M., Pamela Padgett, and Sharon J. Hall. Effects of Co-occurring Urban Atmospheric Compounds on Desert Herbaceous Plants. (pdf)

Huber, David P., Kathleen A. Lohse, and Sharon J. Hall. Climate Controls the Fate of Anthropogenic Nitrogen Additions in Desert Ecosystems. (pdf)

Kane, Kevin, Abigail M. York, Joseph Tuccillo, Lauren Gentile, and Yun Ouyang. A Spatio-Temporal View of Historical Growth in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, 1915-1963. (pdf)


Urban heat island research featured in International Innovation magazine

January 16, 2013

CAP co-PI Sharon Harlan and the research team on the National Science Foundation-funded "Urban Vulnerability to Climate Change" project are featured in a special issue of International Innovation that focuses on making sense of Earth's dramatically changing climate. In the article, research team members reflect on the scientific significance and practical applications of their research, which investigates human vulnerability to urban heat in the Phoenix metropolitan area. This research is being conducted in collaboration with CAP LTER, which has supported some of the remote sensing work under the initiative.

Video of CAP ASM keynote presentation by Dr. William Solecki

January 16, 2013

Dr. William Solecki, Director, Institute for Sustainable Cities, City University of New York, and Professor, Department of Geography, Hunter College, City University of New York, was the keynote speaker for the 2013 CAP All Scientists Meeting on January 11, 2013. His presentation, "Transitions in urban environmental systems: Lessons from New York City and Hurricane Sandy," reflects on the past urban environmental system crises and transitions. He notes that the lens of critical transition theory and writings on urban system resilience can be used to sharpen our analytical capacity to study such issues. His presentation makes reference to the case of Hurricane Sandy, which heavily impacted the New York City metropolitan region and is now defined as one of the most damaging disaster events in U.S. history.


Video updates on CAP core activities!

January 16, 2013

CAP is a large research program and keeping up on all of our initiatives is difficult. We have a series of videos created for the 2013 CAP All Scientists Meeting that share important information on some of our core functions. You can access these through:

Video presenters and topics are:

  • Monica Elser, K-12 education initiatives
  • Billie Turner, Land cover classification project
  • Philip Tarrant, Information management
  • Stevan Earl, Site management, including new research initiatives
  • Chuck Redman, Synthesis volume
  • Arnim Wiek, Sustainable futures and scenarios work


Please rsvp for lunch during CAP ASM

December 13, 2012

The 15th annual CAP ASM and Poster Symposium will be held on January 11, 2013 from 8:30 am - 5:00 pm in the Convergence Room at ASU SkySong, 1475 North Scottsdale Road. Please join us in the morning to hear our keynote speaker, Dr. William Solecki, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Cities, and Professor, Department of Geography, City University of New York. We will also have CAP science presentations and poster presentations throughout the day. During lunchtime, we will hold small group meetings, focusing on our major research areas, which we invite all scientists, students, and community partners to attend.

We ask that you rsvp if you intend to join us for lunch .

CAP scientist in Nature news feature

December 3, 2012

Urban ecology research was the focus of a recent news feature in the journal Nature, which explored the wide range of work conducted under the National Science Foundation and the US Forest Service's  Urban Long Term Research Areas Exploratory (ULTRA-Ex) grant program. This program builds on the success of ongoing urban ecological research by hundreds of scientists connected with CAP and the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES). CAP scientist Paige Warren is the PI of an ULTRA-Ex project in Boston that asseses how efforts to plant vegetation throughout Boston have affected air quality, people and wildlife. CAP scientists Chris Boone, Abby York, Dan Childers, and Josh Abbott are currently collaborating with scientists at the Sevilleta and Jornada LTER sites on an ULTRA-Ex project investigating open space in the Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces metropolitan areas.

Conservation Alliance receives funding from Pulliam Trust

December 3, 2012

The Conservation Alliance, a partnership of conservation organizations, parks departments, and Arizona State University researchers, has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust to further work on studying, restoring, and promoting Phoenix’s mountain park reserves.

Launched in late 2011, the Alliance brings together CAP and Arizona State University's School of Life Sciences’ Ecosystem Conservation and Resilience Initiative (ECRI) with the Desert Botanical Garden, Audubon Arizona, the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department, and the Phoenix Mountains Preservation Council.

The Desert Botanical Garden leads the initiative and was the main recipient of the three-year grant from the Pulliam Trust, which will enable the Alliance to begin work on several projects this winter.

"This grant will allow the Alliance to realize many of its ambitious goals to further the preservation and conservation of the metro area’s open spaces, supporting both recreational enjoyment and ecosystem health now and into the future," says Nancy B. Grimm, director of CAP LTER and professor in the School of Life Sciences.

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust awards grants to nonprofit groups focusing on job creation, land preservation, and local cultural enrichment. The Conservation Alliance’s awarded portion is part of the $2.2 million the Trust granted to 24 nonprofit organizations in Arizona in 2012.

New York Times reports on ecological homogenization research

December 3, 2012

It has long been acknowledged that there are marked similarities among the built structures of suburbs in the United States due to the proliferation of big box stores and similarities in housing design and neighborhood layout. Now, a team of scientists from across the LTER Network (CAP, PIE, FCE, BES, CDR plus Los Angeles) is examining the ecological homogenization of America. They posit that cities are becoming more similar ecologically due to widespread landscaping practices such as the grass lawn and fertilizer use, which are promoted through the multimillion dollar landscaping industry. This work, funded by a LTER-leveraged grant from the National Science Foundation, is led by Peter Groffman (BES) and involves Sharon Hall and Kelli Larson from CAP. Both Groffman and Hall were recently interviewed by the New York Times for a story detailing their research. This work builds on ongoing cross-LTER research on residential landscapes, which has culminated in articles published in Human Ecology, The Triple Helix, Urban Ecosystems and Cities and Environment.




CAP scientists win environmental education award

October 24, 2012

CAP co-PI and Executive Committee member Charles Redman and CAP Education Manager Monica Elser were honored recently when their National Science Foundation-funded GK-12 program, Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools, won an award  at the 32nd annual Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards held in Scottsdale, Arizona. Each year, Valley Forward recognizes a wide range of environmental initiatives in the metropolitan Phoenix area, including education programs, through its awards.

The Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools program places graduate students in high schools to foster learning on sustainability. In addition to Dr. Redman and Ms. Elser, who serve as PI and co-PI respectively on this initiative, several CAP graduate students have participated in the program, including Ph.D. candidate Erin Frisk who led CAP’s high school student mentoring program last spring. More

CAP scientist receives national award

October 21, 2012

Anthony J. Brazel,a long-time CAP scientist and Arizona State University professor emeritus in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, has been awarded the 2013 Helmet E. Landsberg Award from the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the leading professional society in the US for atmospheric scientists. The AMS gives this award to an individual or team for exemplary contributions to the fields of urban meteorology, climatology, or hydrology and recognizes Brazel's significant contributions to the study of urban heat islands, using the Phoenix metropolitan area/CAP study area as a research site. Under Brazel's scholarship and leadership, ASU has become one of the leading centers in the United States for research in urban climatology, which has been an enduring theme in CAP research. Brazel has also collaborated with Gordon Heisler at the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) LTER site to produce research on comparative urban climatology. More

Museum exhibit examines environmental change in South Central Phoenix

October 15, 2012

ASU graduate students Katelyn Parady and Victoria Sargent have created an interactive exhibit at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center that tells the story of environmental change in one Phoenix neighborhood. The exhibit, "Environmental Memories of South Central Phoenix," is based on Parady's Ph.D. research and data from the "Urban Vulnerability to Climate Change" project, a National Science Foundation-funded initiative directed by CAP scientist Sharon Harlan. The exhibit depicts the neighborhood over time through maps, photographs, resident interviews, and a timeline. Read more

CAP scientists receive grant to study invasive species

September 24, 2012

CAP scientists Scott Yabiku, Sharon Hall, and Abigail York are among the investigators on a newly-funded National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, "Feedbacks Between Human Community Dynamics and Socioecological Vulnerability in a Biodiversity Hotspot," to study the resilience and vulnerability of communities in Nepal to an invasive weed species that rapidly colonizes fields, grasslands, and forests. This five-year project has been funded through NSF’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems program as well as the Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability portfolio of programs.

PI Yabiku and co-PIs Hall and York cite their interdisciplinary, collaborative experiences in CAP as a catalyst toward their new collaboration. To see an abstract of their proposal, please visit the NSF website at and/or check out the story on ASU News

Summer program involves high school students in urban ecology research

September 12, 2012

This summer, CAP Director Dan Childers and his Wetland Ecosystem Ecology Lab hosted three Phoenix  high school students and introduced them to urban ecological research in the field and in the laboratory. The focus of the students' research was work that Childers and his lab have initiated at the Tres Rios constructed wetlands in Phoenix. For information on this summer program, please see

During the 2012 spring semester, the three high school students worked with CAP scientist Kelli Larson and School of Sustainability Ph.D. student Erin Frisk on sustainability issues. The students made significant strides in introducing their peers to sustainability practices and principles.

The National Science Foundation funded this initiative through the Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS) program, which brings students from underrepresented groups into universities to work with faculty and students on scientific research projects. CAP faculty interested in participating in the RAHSS program should contact Marcia Nation, CAP Project Manager.

CAP scientists, students, and staff attend LTER All Scientists Meeting

September 12, 2012

From September 9-13, a group of CAP scientists, students, and staff will be attending the LTER All Scientists Meeting (ASM) in Estes Park, Colorado. This year's LTER ASM theme is "The Unique Role of the LTER Network in the Anthropocene." CAP is sending a delegation of 38 faculty, staff, undergraduate students and graduate students to this event, which will make it one of the largest LTER site groups in attendance. CAP participants will present 20 posters and participate in working groups on topics varying from "Urban Sustainability" to the "Ecological Homogenization of America." In addition LTER education managers, students, information managers, and site science communicators will hold meetings involving representatives from all 26 LTER sites, including CAP. For more information, please see

Desert Vegetation in the City Supports Native Bird Populations

August 23, 2012

Research by CAP scientists has found that native vegetation in urban areas supports native bird species better than grass lawns, thus preserving avian biodiversity in cities. This is detailed in a recently-published article, "Linking foraging decisions to residential yard bird composition," in PLOS ONE by Susannah Lerman (CAP graduate student), Paige Warren (currently a visiting professor with CAP from University of Massachusetts-Amherst), Hilary Gan (CAP field assistant), and Eyal Shochat (CAP research associate). The research made use of innovative techniques to quantify bird foraging behavior in both mesic (grass) yards and yards with desert-like landscaping. For more information, see the press release from the National Science Foundation.

Remote Sensing Post-doc Position at ASU

August 18, 2012

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Arizona State University

Deadline for Application: The position is open until filled; but materials should arrive by August 31, 2012 for full consideration.

We are seeking an outstanding postdoctoral research associate for a two-year position on NOAA-funded research evaluating drought risks and its impact on agricultural land and water use to support adaptive decision-making. The overall goals of this study are to undertake research to better understand how water use by crop type responds to drought conditions and to use this knowledge to support adaptive management in the agricultural sector and foster sustainable water use in an era of climate uncertainty and change. This project seeks to answer the underlying research questions: a) How does vulnerability to drought vary by crop types based on a large spatial scale analysis?; b) What is the impact of drought on agricultural water consumption at different spatial scales?; c) What adaptive options are available through changes in crop mixes and limited time market driven water transfers? and d) What are the economic cost-benefits of alternative adaptation strategies under different drought scenarios at the farm and watershed levels? To address the above research questions, the following objectives have been set: (1) Identify different agricultural crop types in two wet years (i.e., 2001, 2005) and two drought years (i.e., 2000, 2002) over the selected study area using advanced image processing techniques (e.g., spectral matching techniques, regression tree algorithms, space-time spiral curves - change vector analysis, Phenology analysis approach, image fusion with time series spectral indices, multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis) and remotely sensed data (e.g., MODIS, Landsat, ASTER, Hyperspectral); (2) Determine evapotranspiration (ET) or water demand by crop type for the selected years using satellite-based SEBAL/MATIRC; (3) Generate water demand per crop per pixel and integrate with selected drought indicators; (4) Examine statistical relations between water demand by individual crop types as well as agriculture land as a whole and drought index using spatial regression and analysis of variance tests; and (5) Estimate the economic impacts of drought at both farm and the watershed level and assess economic cost-benefits of alternative adaptation strategies under different drought scenarios using crop budget analysis.

More information on the project can be found here:

A successful candidate should have a PhD in geography, agriculture, environmental science, ecology or a related field with a strong emphasis on remote sensing of agriculture mapping, geospatial analysis, multivariate statistics, and spatial modeling. Experience in the use of remote sensing and GIS software, such as ENVI, Imagine, eCognition/Definiens, IDRISI, ArcGIS, and Matlab is required. A substantive focus in urban agriculture ecosystems (e.g., water; evaporatranspiration; ecosystem services; plant ecology, drought) is also necessary. Demonstrated computer programming experience (e.g., ENVI/IDL, MATLAB, Python) is a plus. The applicant should have a good publication record and a demonstrated ability to work independently. This is a grant-funded position wherein employment is contingent upon the renewal of the grant.

Applicants should submit a CV, a brief statement detailing how their research interests align with the focus of the project, and the names and contact information for three references. Estimated start date is October 1, or as soon as the candidate is available. Please submit applications to: Soe W Myint (

Science of Water Art Exhibit Illustrates Kids' Impressions of Water Use

August 16, 2012

The Science of Water Art, an initiative funded in part by CAP LTER, is on exhibit at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center during the month of September 2012. This initiative, part of the Global Ethnohydrology project, focuses on 4th graders' impressions of water usage in their neighborhoods in the present and in the future. The project is lead by CAP scientist, Amber Wutich. For more information, visit

CAP Mentoring Future Wetland Scientists

July 5, 2012

Christopher Sanchez, a University of Miami undergraduate student, has been working with CAP scientist Dan Childers for the last two summers on a project in the Tres Rios constructed wetlands. Both have been involved in the Society of Wetland Scientists mentoring program and were recently featured in a video describing the mentoring process.

Christopher is not the first undergraduate to participate in CAP research. Since 2003, CAP has funded 34 undergraduate students to work with scientists through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.