24 April 2013

Urban grasslands

Urban grasslands are ecosystems dominated by turf-forming species created and maintained by humans for aesthetic and recreational (not grazing) purposes.  We use this term, rather than “lawn” to signal that urban grassland ecosystems cover significant areas and have coherent patterns of ecosystem processes that can be evaluated with the same approaches used to study other ecosystem types e.g., forests, rangelands, prairies.  

Suburban turfgrass now covers 10-16 million ha in the U.S., forming the nation’s largest irrigated crop. 

Why important:
While urban grasslands provide significant ecosystem services related to recreation and aesthetics, there are significant concerns about fundamental changes in ecological structure and function associated with lawns and other components of urban and suburban ecosystems.

For more information:
·   Groffman, P. M. and R. V. Pouyat. 2009. Methane uptake in urban forests and lawns. Environmental Science & Technology 43:5229-5235.
·   Groffman, P. M., C. O. Williams, R. V. Pouyat, L. E. Band, and I. Yesilonis. 2009. Nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide flux in urban forests and grasslands. Journal of Environmental Quality. 38:1848-1860.
·   Raciti, S. M., P. M. Groffman, and T. J. Fahey. 2008. Nitrogen retention in urban lawns and forests. Ecological Applications 18:1615-1626.
·   Raciti, S. R., A. J. Burgin, P. M. Groffman, D. N. Lewis, and T. J. Fahey. 2011a. Denitrification in suburban lawn soils. Journal of Environmental Quality 40:1392-1940.
·   Raciti, S. R., P. M. Groffman, J. C. Jenkins, R. V. Pouyat, and T. J. Fahey. 2011b. Nitrate production and availability in residential soils. Ecological Applications 21:2357-2366.
·   Raciti, S. R., P. M. Groffman, J. C. Jenkins, R. V. Pouyat, T. J. Fahey, M. L. Cadenasso, and S. T. A. Pickett. 2011c. Accumulation of carbon and nitrogen in residential soils with different land use histories. Ecosystems 14:287-297.

Contributed by BES Co-PI Dr. Peter Groffman

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