Skip to Main Content
Social-ecological research in urban natural areas: an emergent process for integrationAuthor(s): Michelle L. Johnson; D. S. Novem Auyeung; Nancy F. Sonti; Clara C. Pregitzer; Heather L. McMillen; Richard Hallett; Lindsay K. Campbell; Helen M. Forgione; Mina Kim; Sarah Charlop-Powers; Erika S. Svendsen
Source: Urban Ecosystems
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
View PDF (2.0 MB)
DescriptionUnderstanding the structure and function of urban landscapes requires integrating social and ecological research. Here, we integrate parallel social and ecological assessments of natural areas within New York City. We examined social data (from a rapid assessment of park use and meaning, collected at a park zone level) alongside ecological data (froma plot-based assessment of forest structure and diversity). In-depth interviews with researchers and managers (n = 11) involved with the social and ecological assessments revealed commonly-held values considered critical for integration, including clear communication, openness, trust, and shared goals and also identified barriers to the integration process, including the scales at which each dataset was collected. We applied an informed, shared problem framing to investigate the relationships between visitor use and ecological condition in urban natural areas.We began with fuzzy cognitive modeling, where researchers developed models of defining a "healthy urban forest." We then developed two social-ecological typologies to examine the integrated dataset in relation to how visitors may affect or perceive ecological health and threat. Typologies identify NYC natural areas where social indicators (number of visitors, diversity of park use motivations) are either high or low and ecological condition is either high or low. Examination of these typologies led to exploring correlations between social and ecological variables, to team discussions, and to developing new research questions. We conclude this paper with a discussion of tradeoffs of this type of emergent, integrative approach to social-ecological synthesis research.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationJohnson, Michelle L.; Novem Auyeung, D.S.; Sonti, Nancy F.; Pregitzer, Clara C.; McMillen, Heather L.; Hallett, Richard; Campbell, Lindsay K.; Forgione, Helen M.; Kim, Mina; Charlop-Powers, Sarah; Svendsen, Erika S. 2018. Social-ecological research in urban natural areas: an emergent process for integration. Urban Ecosystems. 36(3): 495-. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-018-0763-9.
KeywordsSocial-ecological, Urban forest, Typology, Integration, Synthesis
- Stories, shrines, and symbols: Recognizing psycho-social-spiritual benefits of urban parks and natural areas
- The Written Park: Reading Multiple Urban Park Subjectivities Through Signage, Writing, and Graffiti
- Shades of green: Measuring the ecology of urban green space in the context of human health and well-being
XML: View XML