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.