|Figure 1. View south into Center for Urban Habitat’s ecosystem installation at the IX Art Park.|
accomplished 3 years of ecosystem installations in the Charlottesville area, Center
for Urban Habitats (CUH) is now beginning research to measure the impacts of
ecosystem-modeling. While attempting to install entire ecosystems has obvious
benefits for supporting biodiversity, very little is understood about the
extent or quality of those benefits within the urban context. While it is true
that with each transformation we see dramatic increases in native animal
species, we have not actually quantified those changes. It may seem obvious
that removing a monoculture such as turf lawn and replacing it with a native
plant community would help pollinators and other native wildlife. But, what is
the actuality of change? How much change is there? What kind of changes do we
see? How might local biodiversity benefit if we convert 10% of Charlottesville’s
surface area to Ecosystem-modeled Habitat? What would that take?
|Figure 2. Students locating 1.5m x 1.5m research plots among the goldenrods, thoroughworts, and mountainmints of the Piedmont Prairie portion of the ecosystem.|
opportunity by partnering with the Renaissance School of Charlottesville. The
first phase will focus on research at CUH’s ecosystem installation at the IX Art
Park in Charlottesville, Virginia.
School students, under the guidance of Ann Minutella, Science Teacher, and
Becky Wilbur, Dean of Academics, Mathematics Teacher and Researcher at University
of Virginia’s Mountain Lake Biological Station, will begin a 1 year
investigation of the real impacts of using CUH’s ecosystem-modeling methods for landscape
design in urban areas.
approaching from the south, to get the ball rolling. We used random selection
to spread 10 test plots throughout the 8,000 sq. foot installation. Each plot
will be 1.5m x 1.5m in size. 5 plots were located within the ecosystem
installation in areas that are fully planted and established. 5 more plots were
located in areas outside of the ecosystem installation. An eleventh plot will
be located in an area that was abandoned and allow to self-seed and grow. With
this plot we hope to begin asking questions about the impacts our installations
have on areas nearby.
|Figure 3. Students locating 1.5m x 1.5m research control plots in areas not converted to native ecosystems. The differences between the species variety and richness between the two plot types should be significant.|
refining and documenting their methodology. Habitat structure, soil chemistry,
soil drainage, and other site-based components will be measured over winter.
Animal counts, including birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles, spiders and
more, will begin in late winter/early spring.