Fall 2017 & 2016-2017 Global Change Fellow
Statement of purpose:
Little is known about the ecology of remnant forest fragments in urbanized areas. Even less is known about the ecosystem services supplied by urban fragments. With more than half of the world’s population now living in urbanized areas it is important to learn all that we can about urban trees. Their ecological value notwithstanding, trees are a culturally important resource in cities as well. The presence of trees in urban areas increases property values and without even knowing it people who live or work in cities depend upon urban trees to reduce air pollution and runoff, cast shade to cool buildings, and reduce the effects of ultraviolet radiation. Urban trees are subjected to more stressors than ever as a result of urban sprawl and global climate change. I am interested in elucidating ways to enhance tree health in urbanized environments.
Description of research:
My doctoral research falls within the fourth theme of the Southeast Climate Science Center: “Ecological Research and Modeling”. I will describe how urban forest fragments buffer disturbances associated with climate change and urbanization. Urban forests play a critical role in maintaining environmental health and human well-being. However urban trees are subject to stressors such as higher temperatures, reduced water availability, soil compaction, and poor soil nutrition. I’ve hypothesized that forest fragments in urban areas serve as cooler more ecologically diverse refugia for trees because they are disassociated from the stressors experienced by street trees. Arthropod diversity in fragments reduces pest herbivory due to predation and parasitism. Therefore tree health may be related to its position within or around a fragment. I predict that street trees growing outside a fragment will experience the greatest insect herbivory and will be in poor condition relative to trees growing on the margin or within a fragment. This research will be useful for making recommendations about the minimum fragment size required to optimize tree health, overall diversity, and ecosystem services in an urban landscape.
View a video below developed by Larry describing his research as a Global Change Fellow. Larry’s research is part of the SE CSC-funded project, Consequences of Urbanization and Climate on Human and Ecosystem Health.
Larry Long, PhD student in Entomology, Climate Change Impacts on Urban Tree Decline