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Research Questions

Syracuse Urban Long Term Research Area (ULTRA)

We have designed two questions that foster interdisciplinary research and synthesis and allow us to study the city as an integrated system.

  • Question 1: What is the socio-ecological metabolism (SEM) of a rust belt city, how has it changed over time, how might it be vulnerable to future external factors such as restrictions in oil availability, and how might city revitalization emphasizing natural ecosystem processes via green infrastructure affect SEM at both the city/regional and the household/neighborhood level in the future? This question focuses on quantifying the past, current and future potential effective SEM (production usable to humans in energy units minus respiration) based on alternative LULC scenarios at both the regional and neighborhood level; b) measuring local/neighborhood scale metabolites of heat, matter and nutrients that are a direct consequence of LULC and that contribute to both social and ecological sustainability of life; and c) providing LULC alternatives incorporating natural ecosystem processes that are socially acceptable, sustainable, and likely to improve local air and water quality.
  • Question 2: What institutional and societal constraints may limit transitioning to this new city form, and how can urban ecosystem science be transferred to local actors, from local citizens to government, to help develop policies or implement green technologies that optimize SEM and contribute to quality of life for all urban inhabitants, including non-human biota? This question focuses on a) identifying the stakeholder LULC norms for citizens and governmental entities; b) identifying the current policy, social and economic limits to instituting new GI processes; c) determining socially acceptable LULC changes and policies at both the landowner and government scales to institute new GI; and d) determining how best to transfer natural ecosystem modeling information to stakeholders to facilitate improved urban ecosystem knowledge and management.