Science and art are rarely thought of as going hand-in-hand. In fact, we typically think of scientists and artists as having entirely different type of brains – one logical and analytical, the other creative and subjective.
When in 1997 the National Science Foundation (NSF) requested proposals for up to two urban Long-Term Ecological sites to join the network of wild and production ecosystems that had been studied up to that point, it had both long-standing and new goals in mind.
Add water pollution to the list of ills suffered by under-served urban communities. Economically-depressed neighborhoods are hotspots for water contamination due to aging sewer and storm-water systems. Optimistically, a new study suggests that water cleaning and community greening can go hand-in-hand.
Projects that improve water quality by planting vacant lots, parking strips, and other urban spaces with trees and community gardens also bring people out of doors and teach local kids about their environment.
Ecologists define an ecosystem as a unit of the landscape—a forest, a lake, or a river. Often, they are interested in the movement of materials through that area. Rain may deposit nitrogen in a forest, while a stream may carry nitrogen away from the forest and into a river.
As the Director of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), a Long Term Ecological Research project, I work with colleagues to reveal how watersheds can be used to understand interactions among social, biophysical, and built environments.
The great American lawn is about as far from a natural ecosystem as one can get. These artificial landscapes require an inordinate amount of resources to keep them in the green and manicured condition Americans have come to expect.
The Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) is a collaborative of over 30 researchers, educators and policy makers working together to understand how urban ecosystems function. Led by Institute Distinguished Senior Scientist Dr. Steward T. A. Pickett, other IES staff members involved in the effort include: Microbial Ecologist Dr. Peter M. Groffman, Educator Dr. Alan R. Berkowitz, BES Education Coordinator Ms. Janie Gordon, BES Information Manager Mr. Jonathan Walsh, and Administrative Assistant Ms. Holly Beyar.