Urban Gardens: constrained auto-generation of spatial pattern and consequences for ecosystem services
Urban gardens represent a vibrant and growing element of the global food system, throughout the world. While they take a variety of specific forms, they generally are small-scale vegetable gardens frequently coordinated by some form of community organization. They also are frequently organic or quasi-organic. Despite the fact that there is little coordinated effort to plan these gardens at a macro level, it is evident that they do not occur at random in most urban landscapes, but rather seem to form loose clusters. It is reasonable to expect that secondary consequences will emerge from this spatial pattern, but precisely what those secondary consequences are and how strong they will be, remains enigmatic.
In this proposal we aim to :
- determine the underlying ecological/sociological/economic dynamics that generate spatial patterns of urban farms in general,
- examine the ecological dynamics that determine the dynamics of pest species in the gardens, a direct subject of ecology,
- examine the consequences of this pattern and these dynamics for ecosystem function, specifically with respect to autonomous biological control function.
The underlying forces that generate the pattern will be the focus of Michael Gordon, whose position in the Ross Business School suits the goal of incorporating ecological, economic and social forces in determining spatial patterns of urban gardens. The ecology of the major pests in the gardens will be the focus of John Vandermeer, whose position in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of LSA suits him for this concentration. The consequences for ecosystem function, autonomous pest control, will be concentrated on by Ivette Perfecto, examining both theoretically and empirically the way spatial pattern and ecological dynamics affects the predators and pests in these local agroecosystems, and to what extent the control over those pests can be seen as autonomous to the overall system.
The research will be located in southeastern Michigan, in the corridor that includes Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit.