Identifying the benefits and barriers to graduate student cross-site socio-ecological research in urban systems
Many urban areas are expanding and nearly 80% of the US population now lives in cities. With the inception of LTER sites dedicated to addressing urban systems (BES, CAP 1997), advances have been made regarding socio-ecological research and understanding urban ecosystems. In addition, many other LTER sites also conduct research on human dominated systems, thus offering several opportunities for cross-site collaborations. Comparing systems with different biophysical characteristics, histories, cultures and other drivers of urbanization can lead to interesting questions and eventually a broader, synthetic understanding of the social and ecological functioning of urban ecosystems. However, it can be challenging for investigators, particulary graduate students, to initiate and sustain, find collaborators, or even obtain relevant data for cross-site research. Our working group will highlight the many benefits to cross-site studies, while also identifying the challenges and some potential solutions or tools to ease these challenges. Additionally, this discussion will review the best methods for conducting cross-site urban socio-ecological research. We believe these methods may be useful in structuring new cross-site research questions and synthesizing current and past research.
This is one of two proposed follow-up sessions to the Graduate Student Symposium (GSS) working group: “Identifying the benefits and barriers to graduate student cross-site socio-ecological research in urban systems”. In this working group, we will continue discussing the benefits and challenges for graduate students in conducting cross LTER site socio-ecological research. However, the main activities of this follow-up session include preparing a manuscript outline to disseminate the main points from our discussions, offer potential tools to facilitate student cross-site collaborations, as well as review the methodologies currently used in comparative urban socio-ecological research. The manuscript will be targeted towards a peer-reviewed journal focused on current ecological issues, such as Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The second follow-up GSS working group will develop a networking tool to facilitate interdisciplinary cross-site graduate student collaborations (see ASM workshop proposal “Using social network sites and visualizations to lower the barriers to cross-site and socio-ecological research in urban systems” submitted by Cutts et al). We also expect that proposal(s) for follow up funding for newly established cross-site research collaborations will emerge from the graduate student interactions during this set of working groups. Although this session is building on a previous GSS workshop, we encourage participation by those that were not present at the GSS workshop, especially faculty that are interested in this topic.