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Dr. Timon McPhearson

Urban Community Ecologist | PhD, Rutgers University

urban ecology, resilience, social-ecological systems

External site: | Profile (pdf)

Twitter: ‎@timonmcphearson

Dr. McPhearson's research examines cities as ecosystems to study social, ecological, and technical interactions to understand urban system dynamics. He utilizes both empirical (e.g. Big Data, field experiments) and theoretical approaches (social-ecological systems and resilience theory) with a focus on the role of urban green infrastructure for advancing equity, climate change resilience, and urban sustainability.

Current Research

Comparative urban ecology

Cities are unique, but many also have similar attributes, patterns, and ecological processes. By comparing research on the ecology in and of cities across the US, Europe, and South America, this research seeks to advance a generalized understanding of the similarities and differences among cities that drive major urban social and ecological patterns. By examining the social, ecological, and technical-infrastructural system (SETS) interactions using existing "big data" across a network of cities, researchers are advancing urban ecology as an urban systems science.

Urban ecosystem services

Ecosystems in cities provide a host of benefits to urban residents ranging from cooling hot cities (especially in summer) through evapotranspiration and shading, stormwater absorption, carbon storage, recreation, and providing habitat for urban adapted species. However, the relationship between biodiversity, ecosystem function, and such "ecosystem services" have not been well studied in urban areas. This research examines relationships between ecosystem function and services to better understand the spatial variation in public access to these services and how improving our ecological knowledge can advance urban planning and management of urban natural areas.

Ecosystem-based climate adaptation and urban resilience

Cities are hotspots for impacts of climate change. Ecosystems in cities and urban regions offer a suite of potential solutions for climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and urban resilience building. Through cellular automata scenario modeling, machine learning, and "big data" researchers are examining how urban ecosystems can provide novel opportunities for reducing risk and vulnerability to heat and flooding for the most vulnerable urban residents. Additionally, by linking urban biodiversity data with functional traits this work is advancing new urban ecological resilience indicators for assessing current levels of ecosystem resilience.

Urban forest dynamics

Through multi-year ecological experiments in urban forests, this research examines the short- and long-term impacts of urban tree planting and management strategy on biodiversity, ecosystem structure, and functioning. Research includes examining soil nutrients, heavy metals, and carbon dynamics over time together with extensive vegetation monitoring to evaluate best management strategies for maximizing carbon uptake and storage, invasive species control, and forest canopy closure in complex urban biological systems.

Ghermandi, A, J Langemeyer, D Van Berkel, F Calcagni, Y Depietri, LE Vigl, N Fox, et al. (MAR 17) 2023. “Social Media Data For Environmental Sustainability: A Critical Review Of Opportunities, Threats, And Ethical Use”. One Earth 6 (3): 236-250, . doi:10.1016/j.oneear.2023.02.008.
Wang, J, Timon McPhearson, WQ Zhou, EM Cook, P Herreros-Cantis, and J Liu. (JUL) 2023. “Comparing Relationships Between Urban Heat Exposure, Ecological Structure, And Socio-Economic Patterns In Beijing And New York City”. Landscape And Urban Planning 235. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2023.104750.
Hoover, FA, S Meerow, E Coleman, Z Grabowski, and Timon McPhearson. (SEP) 2023. “Why Go Green? Comparing Rationales And Planning Criteria For Green Infrastructure In Us City Plans”. Landscape And Urban Planning 237. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2023.104781.
Grabowski, Zbigniew J., Timon McPhearson, and Steward T. A. Pickett. 2023. “Transforming Us Urban Green Infrastructure Planning To Address Equity”. Landscape And Urban Planning 229. Elsevier BV: 104591. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2022.104591.
Grabowski, Zbigniew J., Katinka Wijsman, Claudia Tomateo, and Timon McPhearson. 2022. “How Deep Does Justice Go? Addressing Ecological, Indigenous, And Infrastructural Justice Through Nature-Based Solutions In New York City”. Environmental Science &Amp; Policy 138. Elsevier BV: 171-181. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2022.09.022.
Grabowski, Zbigniew J., Timon McPhearson, Marissa Matsler, Peter M. Groffman, and Steward T. A. Pickett. 2022. “What Is Green Infrastructure? A Study Of Definitions In Us City Planning”. Frontiers In Ecology And The Environment. Wiley. doi:10.1002/fee.2445.
Gilbert, Melissa R, Hallie Eakin, and Timon McPhearson. 2022. “The Role Of Infrastructure In Societal Transformations”. Current Opinion In Environmental Sustainability 57. Elsevier BV: 101207. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2022.101207.
Krueger, Elisabeth H, Timon McPhearson, and Simon A Levin. 2022. “Integrated Assessment Of Urban Water Supply Security And Resilience: Towards A Streamlined Approach”. Environmental Research Letters 17 (7). IOP Publishing: 075006. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/ac78f4.
McPhearson, Timon, Elizabeth M. Cook, Marta Berbés-Blázquez, Chingwen Cheng, Nancy B. Grimm, Erik Andersson, Olga Barbosa, et al. 2022. “A Social-Ecological-Technological Systems Framework For Urban Ecosystem Services”. One Earth 5 (5). Elsevier BV: 505-518. doi:10.1016/j.oneear.2022.04.007.
Mejia, GA, Peter M. Groffman, AE Downey, Elizabeth M. Cook, S Sritrairat, R Karty, MI Palmer, and Timon McPhearson. 2022. “Nitrogen Cycling And Urban Afforestation Success In New York City”. Ecological Applications. doi:10.1002/eap.2535.
Branny, Artur, Maja Steen Møller, Silviya Korpilo, Timon McPhearson, Natalie Gulsrud, Anton Stahl Olafsson, Christopher M Raymond, and Erik Andersson. 2022. “Smarter Greener Cities Through A Social-Ecological-Technological Systems Approach”. Current Opinion In Environmental Sustainability 55. Elsevier BV: 101168. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2022.101168.
Frantzeskaki, N, and Timon McPhearson. (FEB 3) 2022. “Mainstream Nature-Based Solutions For Urban Climate Resilience”. Bioscience 72 (2): 113-115, . doi:10.1093/biosci/biab105.
Ortiz, L., A. Mustafa, Herreros Cantis, and Timon McPhearson. 2022. “Overlapping Heat And Covid-19 Risk In New York City”. Urban Climate 41. Elsevier BV: 101081. doi:10.1016/j.uclim.2021.101081.
Ortiz, L., H. Gamarro, J.E. Gonzalez, and Timon McPhearson. 2022. “Energy Burden And Air Conditioning Adoption In New York City Under A Warming Climate”. Sustainable Cities And Society 76. Elsevier BV: 103465. doi:10.1016/j.scs.2021.103465.
Pineda-Pinto, M, P Herreros-Cantis, Timon McPhearson, N Frantzeskaki, J Wang, and WQ Zhou. (NOV) 2021. “Examining Ecological Justice Within The Social-Ecological-Technological System Of New York City, Usa”. Landscape And Urban Planning 215. doi:10.1016/j.lurbplan.2021.104228.
Herreros‐Cantis, Pablo, and Timon McPhearson. 2021. “Mapping Supply Of And Demand For Ecosystem Services To Assess Environmental Justice In New York City”. Ecological Applications. Wiley. doi:10.1002/eap.2390.
Spotswood, EN, M Benjamin, L Stoneburner, MM Wheeler, EE Beller, D Balk, Timon McPhearson, M Kuo, and RI McDonald. (DEC) 2021. “Nature Inequity And Higher Covid-19 Case Rates In Less-Green Neighbourhoods In The United States”. Nature Sustainability 4 (12): +, 1092+. doi:10.1038/s41893-021-00781-9.
Hoover, Fushcia-Ann, Sara Meerow, Zbigniew J. Grabowski, and Timon McPhearson. 2021. “Environmental Justice Implications Of Siting Criteria In Urban Green Infrastructure Planning”. Journal Of Environmental Policy & Planning. Informa UK Limited, 1-18. doi:10.1080/1523908x.2021.1945916.
Lopez, B, C Kennedy, C Field, and Timon McPhearson. (NOV) 2021. “Who Benefits From Urban Green Spaces During Times Of Crisis? Perception And Use Of Urban Green Spaces In New York City During The Covid-19 Pandemic”. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 65. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2021.127354.
Lin, Brenda B, Alessandro Ossola, Marina Alberti, Erik Andersson, Xuemei Bai, Cynnamon Dobbs, Thomas Elmqvist, et al. 2021. “Integrating Solutions To Adapt Cities For Climate Change”. The Lancet Planetary Health 5 (7). Elsevier BV: e479-e486. doi:10.1016/s2542-5196(21)00135-2.