We are studying how home-owners influence the plant biodiversity in their yards based on several lifestyle aspects, such as investment of time and money into yard work, socioeconomic status, and gardening preferences (or lack thereof). Part of this research entails developing a new classification of traits for urban species. It focuses on traits that residents use to choose plants, such as provision of shade and flower color. We are also investigating the degree to which an innate desire for variety is driving the patterns of high urban plant diversity using our new trait and color classification scheme that is agnostic to species and captures the variety of colors and flower type in yards.
In the summer of 2018 we started a project looking at biotic-abiotic feedbacks in low managed areas in cities, including road medians, parking verges and lawns in parks.
Our research is part of a collaborative effort to understand the ecology of residential yards across six US cities. A key question driving the research is whether yards in cities with different climates are more similar than would be expected, demonstrating homogenization of ecological communities and processes.
In Salt Lake City, Meghan investigated how homeowners' preferences and management practices result in plant diversity differences across yards.
In Los Angeles, Meghan incorporated surveys of residents' attitudes towards tree attributes, nursery catalog listings, and tree surveys to explain patterns of urban tree diversity.
Collaborators: Diane Pataki, Tara Trammell, Ecological homogenization of urban America, Nancy Sonti, Dexter Locke
- Roman, LA, Pearsall, H, Eisenman, TS, Conway, TM, Fahey, RT, Landry, S, Vogt, JM, Grove, JM, Locke, DH, Bardekjian, AC, Battles, JJ, Cadenasso, ML, Konijendijk, CC, Avolio, ML, Berland, A, Jenerette, GD, Mincey, SK, Staudhammer, S. 2018. How the urban forest came to be: A review of human and ecological legacies. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 31: 157-168.
- Avolio, ML, Pataki, D, Trammell, T, Endter-Wadda J. Biodiverse cities: the nursery industry, homeowners, and neighborhood differences drive urban tree composition. 2018 Ecological Monographs 88: 259-276.
- Pearse, WD, Cavender-bares, J, Hobbie, SE, Avolio, M, Bettez, N, Chowdhury, RR, Groffman, PM, Grove, M, Hall, SJ, Heffernan, JB, Learned, J, Neill, C, Nelson, KC, Pataki, DE, Ruddell, BL, Steele, ME, Trammell, TLE. 2018. Ecological homogenisation in North American urban yards: vegetation diversity, composition, and structure. Ecosphere 9: art e02105
- Groffman, PM, Avolio M, Cavender-Bares, J, Bettez, ND, Grove JM, Hall S, Hobbie SE, Larson KL, Lerman SB, Locke D, Heffernan J, Morse JL, Neill C, Nelson K, O’Neil-Dunne J, Pataki D, Polsky C, Pouyat RV, Chowdhury RR, Steele M, Trammell T. 2017. Ecological Homogenization of residential macrosystems. Nature Ecology and Evolution art. 0191.
- Avolio, ML, Pataki, S, Gillespie, TW, Jenerette, D, McCarthy, HR, Pincetl, S, Clarke, LW. 2015. Tree diversity in southern California’s urban forest: the interacting roles of social and environmental variables. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 3: 73.
- Avolio, ML, Pataki, D, Pincetl, S, Gillespie, TW, Jenerette, D, McCarthy, HR. 2015. Understanding preferences for tree attributes: the relative effects of socio-demographic and local environmental factors. Urban Ecosystems 18: 73-86.