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Dr. Elsa Anderson

Urban Ecologist | PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago

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Dr. Anderson’s research focuses on the intersections between human activities and biodiversity patterns in urban areas. She uses field and synthesis research methods to investigate how humans intentionally and collaterally modify plant communities in cities and works to understand how this might influence the ecosystem services and disservices across an urban landscape.

Current Research

Street trees in Baltimore

Street trees are a unique feature of urban areas, and the specific trees in an area are the result of a direct overlap between the human decisions and environmental processes governing a particular space. However, not all trees are created equal. Trees of certain species and sizes are better at providing ecosystem services such as water uptake or evapotransporative cooling, while others might contribute to greenhouse gas accumulation or produce allergenic pollen.

Current work looks at how street tree diversity is distributed across the neighborhood landscape of Baltimore, assessing where there might be gaps in the environmental equity of street trees as an urban resource. Anderson is working to understand how the urban environment impacts the survival of street trees, and how planting year, landscape context, and immediate habitat influence whether certain trees survive or fail.

Midgley, Meghan, Elsa C. Anderson, and Emily Minor. 2021. “Vacant Lot Plant Establishment Techniques Alter Urban Soil Ecosystem Services”. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 61. Elsevier BV: 127096. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2021.127096.
Anderson, Elsa C., Emily S. Minor, and Guillaume Decocq. 2020. “Management Effects On Plant Community And Functional Assemblages In Chicago’s Vacant Lots”. Applied Vegetation Science 23 (2). Wiley: 266-276. doi:10.1111/avsc.12480.
Anderson, Elsa C., and E. S. Minor. 2020. “Assessing Four Methods For Establishing Native Plants On Urban Vacant Land”. Ambio.
Egerer, M., N. Fouch, Elsa C. Anderson, and M. Clarke. 2020. “Socio-Ecological Connectivity Differs In Magnitude And Direction Across Urban Landscapes”. Scientific Reports 10 (1).
Fork, M.L., Elsa C. Anderson, Adrian Castellanos, Ilya R. Fischhoff, Marissa Matsler, Chelsey Nieman, Isabella Oleksy, and Michelle Y. Wong. 2020. “Creating Community: How We Collectively Built An Adaptable Postdoctoral Program To Develop Skills And Overcome Isolation”. Authorea, Inc.. doi:10.22541/au.160519333.36036478/v1.