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Research





New York City Urban Freshwater and Terrestrial Ecosystems

Urbanization is increasing around the world and understanding the impacts that cities have on the natural world is extremely important. My lab aims to understand how urbanization affects the diversity and ecological function in freshwater ecosystems, particularly in headwater streams. We are also interested in how urban green spaces impact the ecology of cities and how effective they are in replicating natural ecosystems.



Current Research

Insect biodiversity in tree pits in Manhattan

Green spaces in cities are import for many reasons, including providing a bit of nature for city residents and providing ecosystem services that have previously been lost through the process of urbanization. These services include climate control, storm water management, and carbon sequestration. Biodiversity is also a ecosystem service, providing things like pollination and pest control. A lot of attention has been given to large green areas like city parks. Urban farms and green roofs are also increasing in popularity. However, little is known about the function of micro-green spaces like tree pits for supporting biodiversity. This project aims to describe insect communities in tree pits throughout New York City and assess their potential for providing ecosystem services.

See our first poster here.



Honeybee gut microbiome

It has been widely demonstrated that urbanization greatly biodiversity of macroorganisms, typically by reducing overall species richness and increasing the abundance of a few species that thrive in urban environments. Microoranisms also experience urbanization and their diversity may also be impacted, but fewer studies have assessed this. In conjunction with Dr. Davida Smyth and her students at the New School, the lab will be looking at the diversity of microorganims in the guts of Apis mellifera, the European honeybee living in New York City and comparing that to those living in suburban and rural habitats in Westchester County. We hope to eventually expand this to native pollinators and other species of insects.



Aquatic invertebrate of the Bronx River watershed

Aquatic insect communities are highly impacted by urbanization including pollution runoff and hydrological changes. This project, helmed by Elizabeth Scott, we will assess the aquatic invertebrate fauna of the Bronx river and its tributaries and develop testable hypotheses based on what we find. The goal is to establish a long term study of the benthic communities in the Bronx River watershed and the impacts of urbanization in New York City and suburban Westchester County.



Impacts of tourism on urban green space prevalence and biodiversity

Lab member Martha Madrid will use the Geographic Information System (GIS) to assess the impacts that tourism and tourist density may have on the prevalence, quality, and biodiversity in green spaces in New York City. It is possible that tourism dollars in New York City may help to improve the quantity and quality of green spaces in areas highly visited by tourists.



Past Research

Water scarcity and human rights in India

Members of the lab are also interested in how freshwater availability is impacted by human rights. The Thar Desert on the northwester border of India, is the most densely populated desert ecosystem in the world and water scarcity is a large issue. Through survey data collected from village residents in the Thar Desert by Madison Weisend, we will be mapping the village watershed and locating water sources throughout the area. This data was used in coordination with demographic information to examine the relationship between social standing and water scarcity. Check out Madison's poster presented at the Mid-Atlantic SENCER conference



Urban impacts on headwater stream insect biodiversity

We were interested in the patterns of taxonomic richness and distribution of aquatic insect communities in streams impacted by heterogeneous urbanization throughout a small urban areas. See the paper: Lundquist MJ and Zhu W. (2019) Aquatic insect diversity in streams across a rural–urban land-use discontinuum. Hydrobiologia.



Impact of urbanization on stream insect functional groups and nutrient content

We studied the impact that urbanization has on the function of aquatic ecosystems. We found that urbanization does impact insect functional feeding groups, but not evenly among groups. See the paper in Ecosphere: Lundquist, MJ and Zhu, W.(2018) Aquatic insect functional diversity and nutrient content in urban streams in a medium-sized city. Ecosphere, e02284.








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