Residential landscapes are a critical ecological feature of the urban ecosystem because they are widespread and are made up of highly-designed and managed combinations of plants (e.g. landscaping) and animals (e.g., pets). As Phoenix has urbanized, native Sonoran desert ecosystems have been replaced by an “urban oasis” that includes both lush, watered lawns and carefully-managed desert-like landscapes. CAP’s socio-ecological research has delved into the household decision-making, perceptions, and priorities that result in particular residential landscapes.
CAP research has shown numerous complex interactions between social and ecological systems that occur at the scales of households and neighborhoods. These include evidence that: 1) household income is correlated with plant and bird diversity; 2) past land uses (i.e., legacies, such as agriculture) influence current soil characteristics; 3) people tend to manage their front yards and back yards differently due to social considerations, and 4) preferences and attitudes for residential landscapes show the influences of history, gender, culture, and economics.
Hope, D., C. Gries, D. Casagrande, C. L. Redman, N. B. Grimm, and C. Martin. 2006. Drivers of spatial variation in plant diversity across the central Arizona-Phoenix ecosystem. Society and Natural Resources 19(2):101-116. Abstract
Hope, D., C. Gries, W. Zhu, W. F. Fagan, C. L. Redman, N. B. Grimm, A. L. Nelson, C. Martin, and A. Kinzig. 2003. Socioeconomics drive urban plant diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 100(15):8788-8792. Abstract
Kinzig, A. P., P. S. Warren, C. Gries, D. Hope, and M. Katti. 2005. The effects of socioeconomic and cultural characteristics on urban patterns of biodiversity. Ecology and Society 10(1):23. Abstract
Larsen, L., and S. L. Harlan. 2006. Desert dreamscapes: Landscape preference and behavior. Landscape and Urban Planning 78:85-100. Abstract
Larson, K., D. Casagrande, S. Harlan, and S. Yabiku. 2009. Residents’ yard choices and rationales in a desert city: Social priorities, ecological impacts, and decision tradeoffs. Environmental Management 44:921-937. Abstract
Yabiku, S., D. G. Casagrande, and E. Farley-Metzger. 2008. Preferences for landscape choice in a Southwestern desert city. Environment and Behavior 40:382-400. Abstract