Residential landscapes are a critical ecological feature of the urban ecosystem because they are widespread and are made up of highly designed and managed combinations of plants (e.g., landscaping) and animals (e.g., pets). For example, as Phoenix has urbanized, native Sonoran desert ecosystems have been replaced by an “urban oasis” that includes both lush, watered lawns and carefully managed desert-like landscapes. CAP’s socio-ecological research evaluates the household decision-making, perceptions, and priorities that result in particular residential landscapes.
LTER research at the CAP, BES, and PIE sites reveals numerous complex interactions between social and ecological systems that occur at the scales of households and neighborhoods. Researchers have shown that:
- Household income is correlated with plant and bird diversity
- People tend to manage their front yards and back yards differently due to social considerations
- Preferences and attitudes for residential landscapes depend, in part, on history, gender, culture, and economics