Baltimore Ecosystem Study - Research Topics

The Baltimore Ecosystem Study Long-Term Ecological Research project seeks to understand a major urban region as an ecological system. The project focuses on a five county metropolitan region in which watersheds can be used as the stage on which to understand the reciprocal interactions of the social, biophysical, and built environments. Using watershed function as a synthetic indicator and target for model development, the project seeks to answer three questions:

  • What are the fluxes of energy and matter in the Baltimore metropolitan ecosystem, and how do they change over the long term?
  • How does the spatial structure of ecological, physical, infrastructural, and socio-economic factors in the metropolis affect ecological processes?
  • How can urban residents develop and use an understanding of the metropolis as an ecological system to improve the quality of their environment and their daily lives?

Changes in the system through time will range from the distant past into the future.

Based on paleoecological and historical data the study will explore the temporal relationships and lags between social, infrastructural and biophysical processes, and use these relationships to develop simulations to project land cover, social structure, and ecological processes into the future. The Baltimore region is changing in population density and distribution, with land abandonment in the central city and consumption of land on the urban fringe. The project will conduct ecological experiments on the effect of neighborhood revitalization and on the role of exotic species on ecosystem processes. Integrating the research with interested communities and agencies is a major feature of the project.

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