"We wanted to explore how the surrounding landscape affects people, both in terms of their perceptions and their behavior," explains Yabiku. "Since human behavior ultimately transforms the environment, the feedback people get from their surroundings is important to understand."
The spectacular growth of Phoenix--which doubled twice in population size in the past 35 years--gives researchers a unique opportunity to monitor human-induced ecological transformations.
"Experimental approaches are rarely used in studies of human-environment interactions,' says Casagrande. "By combining research approaches from both the social and biophysical sciences, we can gain new insights into how peoples' surroundings affect them."
The study will run until at least 2010, but the results thus far suggest that even those individuals who grew up in the arid environment of Arizona prefer a more lush landscape conducive to recreation and social networking. In addition to the social interactions resulting from the different landscape designs, the researchers are also looking into residents' level of ecological knowledge, overall environmental values, and perceptions of landscapes. Yabiku and Casagrande hypothesize that residents' knowledge of flora and fauna will increase more in the mesic than in the native desert cluster.
Poster Session 16 – Urban Ecology. Wednesday, August 9, 2006, 5:00 – 6:30 PM, Exhibit Hall, Ballroom Level, Cook Convention Center, Memphis, Tennessee. Presenters: David Casagrande, Western Illinois University (firstname.lastname@example.org); Scott Yabiku, Arizona State University, (email@example.com).
Annie Drinkard | EurekAlert!
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