Skip to Content

Ecological Survey of Central Arizona

Ecological Survey of Central Arizona

Survey200_050410_0313The Ecological Survey of Central Arizona (ESCA) is an extensive field survey and integrated inventory designed to capture key ecological indicators of the CAP LTER study area consisting of the urbanized, suburbanized, and agricultural areas of metropolitan Phoenix, and the surrounding Sonoran desert. The survey is conducted every five years at approximately 200 sample plots (30m x 30m) that were located randomly using a tessellation-stratified dual-density sampling design. As a result of the design, study plots fall in just about every imaginable habitat throughout the CAP LTER study area, ranging from native Sonoran desert sites to residential yards to the airport tarmac. Measurements include an inventory of all plants (identified to the lowest possible taxonomic unit, typically species), plant-size measurements, soil coring for physicochemical properties, insect sweep-net sampling, photo documentation, and a visual survey of site characteristics.

In 2010, the survey was expanded to include an inventory of residential parcels overlapping the survey plot at sites in residential areas. The objectives of the survey are to (1) characterize patches in terms of key biotic, physical, and chemical variables, and (2) examine relationships among land use, general plant diversity, native plant diversity, plant biovolume, soil nutrient status, and social-economic indices along an indirect urban gradient. In light of the extensive spatial coverage of ESCA, the sampling locations of many of the CAP LTER’s other long-term monitoring programs (e.g., ground-dwelling arthropods, bird censuses) were repositioned to coincide with ESCA study plots around the time of the first ESCA (survey 200) to leverage data from multiple monitoring efforts. The 4th and most recent survey was conducted in 2015, contributing to a rich dataset in terms of both temporal and spatial coverage.

Datasets

Publications

Ripplinger, J., J. Franklin and S. L. Collins. 2016. When the economic engine stalls – a multi-scale comparison of vegetation dynamics in pre- and post-recession Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning 153(Sep):140-148. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2016.05.009. (link )

Hamilton, G. A. and H. E. Hartnett. 2013. Soot black carbon concentration and isotopic composition in soils from an arid urban ecosystem. Organic Geochemistry 59:87-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2013.04.003. (link )

Zhuo, X., C. G. Boone and E. L. Shock. 2012. Soil lead distribution and environmental justice in the Phoenix metropolitan region. Environmental Justice 5(4):206-213. DOI: 10.1089/env.2011.0041. (link )

Lerman, S. B., V. K. Turner and C. Bang. 2012. Homeowner associations as a vehicle for promoting native urban biodiversity. Ecology and Society 17(4):Art. 45. (link )

Majumdar, A., C. Gries and J. S. Walker. 2011. A non-stationary spatial generalized linear mixed model approach for studying plant diversity. Journal of Applied Statistics 38(9):1935-1950. DOI: 10.1080/02664763.2010.537650. (link )

Bang, C. and S. H. Faeth. 2011. Variation in arthropod communities in response to urbanization: Seven years of arthropod monitoring in a desert city. Landscape and Urban Planning 103(3-4):383-399. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.08.013. (link )

Majumdar, A. and C. Gries. 2010. Bivariate zero-inflated regression for count data: A Bayesian model with application to plant counts. International Journal of Biostatistics 6(1):Art. 27. DOI: 10.2202/1557-4679.1229. (link )

Walker, J. S., N. B. Grimm, J. M. Briggs, C. Gries and L. Dugan. 2009. Effects of urbanization on plant species diversity in central Arizona. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7(9):465-470. DOI: 10.1890/080084. (link )

Majumdar, A., J. P. Kaye, C. Gries, D. Hope and N. B. Grimm. 2008. Hierarchical spatial modeling and prediction of multiple soil nutrients and carbon concentrations. Communications in Statistics -- Simulation and Computation 37(2):434-453. (link )

Kaye, J. P., A. Majumdar, C. Gries, A. Buyantuyev, N. B. Grimm, D. Hope, W. Zhu, G. D. Jenerette and L. A. Baker. 2008. Hierarchical Bayesian scaling of soil properties across urban, agricultural and desert ecosystems. Ecological Applications 18(1):132-145. DOI: 10.1890/06-1952.1. (link )

Buyantuyev, A., J. Wu and C. Gries. 2007. Estimating vegetation cover in an urban environment based on Landsat ETM+ imagery: A case study in Phoenix, USA. International Journal of Remote Sensing 28(2):269-291. DOI: 10.1080/01431160600658149. (link )

Dugan, L. E., M. F. Wojciechowski and L. R. Landrum. 2007. A large-scale plant survey: Efficient vouchering with identification through morphology and DNA analysis. Taxon 56(4):1238-1244. (link )

Lewis, D. B., J. P. Kaye, C. Gries, A. P. Kinzig and C. L. Redman. 2006. Agrarian legacy in soil nutrient pools of urbanizing arid lands. Global Change Biology 12(4):703-709. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01126.x. (link )

Oleson, J., D. Hope, C. Gries and J. P. Kaye. 2006. Estimating soil properties in heterogeneous land-use patches: A Bayesian approach. Environmetrics 17:517-525. DOI: 10.1002/env.789. (link )

Stuart, G., C. Gries and D. Hope. 2006. The relationship between pollen and extant vegetation across an arid urban ecosystem and surrounding desert in the southwest USA. Journal of Biogeography 33:573-591. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2005.01334.x. (link )

Hope, D., C. Gries, D. G. Casagrande, C. L. Redman, C. A. Martin and N. B. Grimm. 2006. Drivers of spatial variation in plant diversity across the central Arizona-Phoenix ecosystem.. Society and Natural Resources 19(2):101-116. DOI: 10.1080/08941920500394469. (link )

Zhu, W. X., D. Hope, C. Gries and N. B. Grimm. 2006. Soil characteristics and the accumulation of inorganic nitrogen in an arid urban ecosystem. Ecosystems 9(5):711-724. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-006-0078-1. (link )

Wentz, E. A., W. L. Stefanov, C. Gries and D. Hope. 2006. Land use and land cover mapping from diverse data sources for an arid urban environments. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 30(2006):320-246. (link )

Hope, D., W. Zhu, C. Gries, J. Oleson, J. P. Kaye, N. B. Grimm and B. Baker. 2005. Spatial variation in soil inorganic nitrogen across and arid urban ecosystem. Urban Ecosystems 8:251-273. (link )

Rainey, F., K. Ray, M. Ferreira, B. Z. Gatz, N. F. Nobre, D. Bagaley, B. A. Rash, M. J. Park, A. M. Earl, N. C. Shank, A. Small, M. C. Henk, J. R. Battista, P. Kaempfer and M. S. Da Costa. 2005. Extensive diversity if ionizing-radiation-resistant bacteria recovered from Sonoran Desert soil and description of nine new species of the genus Delnococcus obtained from a single soil sample. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 71(9):5225-5235. DOI: 10.1128/?AEM.71.9.5225-5235.2005. (link )

Hope, D., C. Gries, W. Zhu, W. F. Fagan, C. L. Redman, N. B. Grimm, A. L. Nelson, C. A. Martin and A. P. Kinzig. 2003. Socioeconomics drive urban plant diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 100(15):8788-8792. (link )

Cousins, J. R., D. Hope, C. Gries and J. C. Stutz. 2003. Preliminary assessment of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal diversity and community structure in an urban ecosystem. Mycorrhiza 13:319-326. (link )

Protocols