#EESpublishes: Profs Cheng, Groffman and Muth, Post Doc Deeb and Prithiviraj, and PhD student Paltseva on Green Infrastructure Design Influences Urban Soil Bacteria Communities

Another publication is forthcoming from our Urban Soils group headquartered at Brooklyn College.   Abstract below.

Green Infrastructure Design Influences Urban Soil Bacteria Communities by Joyner, Kerwin, Deeb, Lozefski, Paltseva, Prithiviraj, McLaughlin, Cheng, Groffman and Muth.

The importance of natural ecosystem processes is often overlooked in urban areas. Green Infrastructure (GI) features have been constructed in urban areas as elements to capture and treat excess urban runoff while providing a range of ancillary benefits, e.g., ecosystem processes mediated by microorganisms that improve air and water quality, in addition to the associations with plant and tree rhizospheres. The objective of this study was to characterize the bacterial community and diversity in engineered soils (Technosols) of five types of GI in New York City; vegetated swales, right of way bioswales (ROWB; including street-side infiltration systems and enhanced tree pits), and an urban forest. The design of ROWB GI features directly connects with the road to manage street runoff, which can increase the Technosol saturation and exposure to urban contaminants washed from the street and carried into the GI feature. This GI design specifically accommodates dramatic pulses of water that influences the bacterial community composition and diversity through the selective pressure of contaminants or by disturbance. The ROWB had the highest biodiversity, but no significant correlation with levels of soil organic matter and microbially-mediated biogeochemical functions. Another important biogeochemical parameter for soil bacterial communities is pH, which influenced the bacterial community composition, consistent with studies in non-urban soils. Bacterial community composition in GI features showed signs of anthropogenic disturbance, including exposure to animal feces and chemical contaminants, such as petroleum products. Results suggest the overall design and management of GI features with a channeled connection with street runoff, such as ROWB, has a comprehensive effect on soil parameters (particularly organic matter) and the bacterial community. One key consideration for future assessments of GI microbial community would be to determine the source of organic matter and elucidate the relationship between vegetation, Technosol, and bacteria in the designed GI features.

#EESPublishes: Profs. Norouzi and Khanbilvardi on A Global Analysis of Land Surface Temperature Diurnal Cycle Using MODIS Observations

Diurnal variations of land surface temperature (LST) play vital role in a wide range of applications such as climate change assessment, land-atmosphere interactions, and heat-related health issues in urban regions. This study uses fifteen years (2003–2017) of daily observations of LST Collection 6 from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments onboard the Aqua and the Terra satellites. A spline interpolation method is used to estimate half-hourly global LST from the MODIS measurements. A preliminary assessment of interpolated LST with hourly ground-based observations over selected stations of the North America shows bias and error of less than 1 K. Results suggest that the present interpolation method is capable in capturing the diurnal variations of LST reasonably well for different land cover types. The diurnal cycle of LST and time of occurrence of maximum temperature are computed from the spatially and temporally consistent interpolated diurnal LST data at a global scale. Regions with higher variability in the timing of maximum LST hours and diurnal amplitude are identified in this study. The global desert regions show generally small variability of monthly mean diurnal LST range, whereas larger areas of the global land exhibits rather higher variability in diurnal LST range during the study period. Moreover, the changes in diurnal temperature range for the study period are examined for distinct land cover types. Analysis of fifteen-year time series of diurnal LST record shows an overall decrease of 0.5 K in amplitude over the Northern hemisphere. However, the diurnal LST range shows variant changes in the Southern hemisphere.

Corresponding author’s email

#EESPublishes: Prof. Peter Groffman on Roots Mediate the Effects of Snowpack Decline on Soil Bacteria, Fungi, and Nitrogen Cycling in a Northern Hardwood Forest

Check out this new article co-authored by Prof Groffman in Frontiers in Microbiology | Terrestrial Microbiology !

Roots Mediate the Effects of Snowpack Decline on Soil Bacteria, Fungi, and Nitrogen Cycling in a Northern Hardwood Forest,

Abstract: Rising winter air temperature will reduce snow depth and duration over the next century in northern hardwood forests. Reductions in snow depth may affect soil bacteria and fungi directly, but also affect soil microbes indirectly through effects of snowpack loss on plant roots. We incubated root exclusion and root ingrowth cores across a winter climate-elevation gradient in a northern hardwood forest for 29 months to identify direct (i.e. winter snow-mediated) and indirect (i.e. root-mediated) effects of winter snowpack decline on soil bacterial and fungal communities, as well as on potential nitrification and net N mineralization rates. Both winter snowpack decline and root exclusion increased bacterial richness and phylogenetic diversity. Variation in bacterial community composition was best explained by differences in winter snow depth or soil frost across elevation. Root ingrowth had a positive effect on the relative abundance of several bacterial taxonomic orders (e.g. Acidobacterales and Actinomycetales). Nominally saprotrophic (e.g. Saccharomycetales and Mucorales) or mycorrhizal (e.g. Helotiales, Russalales, Thelephorales) fungal taxonomic orders were also affected by both root ingrowth and snow depth variation. However, when grouped together, the relative abundance of saprotrophic fungi, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and ectomycorrhizal fungi were not affected by root ingrowth or snow depth, suggesting that traits in addition to carbon acquisition strategy will mediate fungal community responses to snowpack decline in northern hardwood forests. Potential soil nitrification rates were positively related to ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea abundance (e.g. Nitrospirales, Nitrosomondales, Nitrosphaerales). Rates of N mineralization were positively and negatively correlated with ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi, respectively, and these relationships were mediated by root exclusion. The results from this study suggest that a declining winter snowpack and its effect on plant roots each have direct effects on the diversity and abundance of soil bacteria and fungal communities that interact to determine rates of soil N cycling in northern hardwood forests.

#EESpublishes: Prof PeterGroffman on Contribution of non-native plants to the phylogenetic homogenization of U.S. yard floras

Peter Groffman

Abstract. Cultivation and spread of non-native plant species may result in either phylogenetic homoge- nization (increasing similarity) or differentiation (decreasing similarity) of urban floras. However, it is unknown how non-native species influence homogenization of cultivated versus spontaneously occurring species in cities, and which traits are associated with species that promote homogenization versus differentia- tion. In this study, we compared homogenization effects of cultivated and spontaneous non-native species in yard floras across and within seven widely distributed U.S. cities. Additionally, we explored which traits explained their particular contribution to homogenization. We recorded plant presence/absence in 178 private yards distributed among seven metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. We compared phylogenetic homogenization effects of non-native species within both the cultivated and spontaneous species pools using phylogenetic dissimilarities and the homogenization index. Then, we expressed contributions of non-native species to the homogenization of each pool as a function of two different sets of plant functional traits using phylogenetic generalized least square (PGLS) models across and within cities. Across cities, spontaneous non-native species homogenized, and cultivated non-native species differentiated, yard floras. Within the spontaneous pool, short, small-seeded non-native plants and non-native grasses significantly homogenized yard floras. Within the cultivated pool, species contribution to homogenization was best predicted by plant height, presence of showy flowers, and growth form, with non-native grasses significantly homogenizing cultivated yard floras. Within cities, non-native species—whether they were cultivated or spontaneous—consistently homogenized yard floras of the three northern cities and differentiated yard floras of three of the four southern cities, suggesting that homogenization processes are context- and scale-dependent. Likewise, traits explaining homogenization differed substantially among cities. The inconsistent patterns among cities in the plant traits that promoted homogenization of both cultivated and spontaneous species suggest that local environmental and anthropogenic conditions of individual cities imposed strong constraints on trait selection. Linking plant functional traits that promote homogenization with residents’ preferences for vegetation may further enhance understanding of how yard plant communities assemble at regional and local scales.


#EESpublishes: SHRIMP U–Pb zircon evidence for age, provenance, and tectonic history of early Paleozoic Ganderian rocks, east-central Maine, USA

New first authored paper by Prof Allan Ludman in the journal of Atlantic Geology SHRIMP U–Pb zircon evidence for age, provenance, and tectonic history of early Paleozoic Ganderian rocks, east-central Maine, USA
SHRIMP U–Pb zircon ages from Ganderia in eastern Maine clarify the ages and provenance of basement units in the Miramichi and St. Croix terranes and of cover rocks in the Fredericton trough and Central Maine/Aroostook-Matapedia basin (CMAM). These new data constrain timing of orogenic events and help understand the origin of the cover rock depocenters.
Detrital zircon data generally confirm suggested ages of the formations sampled. Zircon grains with ages of ca. 430 Ma in both depocenters, only slightly older than their host rocks, were probably derived from the earliest volcanic eruptions in the Eastport-Mascarene belt. Their presence indicates that unnamed CMAM sandstone units may be as young as Pridoli and their absence from the Appleton Ridge and Digdeguash formations suggests that these formations are older than initial Eastport-Mascarene volcanism. Detrital and volcanic zircon ages confirm a Late Cambrian to Middle Ordovician age for the Miramichi succession and date Miramichi volcanism at 469.3 ± 4.6 Ma. In the St. Croix terrane, zircon grain with an age of 477.4 ± 3.7 Ma from an ashfall at the base of the Kendall Mountain Formation and age spectra and fossils from overlying quartz arenite suggest that the formation may span Floian to Sandbian time. The main source of CMAM and Fredericton sediment was recycled Ganderian basement from terranes emergent after Late Ordovician orogenesis, supplemented by Silurian tephra. Zircon barcodes and lithofacies and tectonic models suggest little, if any, input from Laurentia or Avalonia.
Zircon- and fossil-based ages indicate coeval Upper Ordovician deformation in the St. Croix (ca. 453 to 442 Ma) and Miramichi (ca. 453 to 446 Ma) terranes. Salinic folding in the southeastern Fredericton trough is bracketed between the 421.9 ± 2.4 Ma age of the Pocomoonshine gabbro-diorite and 430 Ma detrital zircons in the Flume Ridge Formation. Zircon ages, lithofacies analysis, and paleontological evidence support the origin of the Fredericton trough as a Salinic foredeep. The CMAM basin cannot have been an Acadian foreland basin, as sedimentation began millions of years before Acadian subduction.

Professor Andrew Maroko on Environmental Justice Versus Environmental Gentrification

Professor Andrew Maroko coauthored an article in the journal – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health entitled Brownfields to Greenfields: Environmental Justice Versus Environmental Gentrification.

Abstract: Gentrification is a growing concern in many urban areas, due to the potential for displacement of lower-income and other vulnerable populations. This process can be accelerated when neighborhood “greening” projects are undertaken via governmental or private investor efforts, resulting in a  phenomenon termed environmental or “green” gentrification. Vacant land in lower-income areas is often improved by the existing community through the creation of community gardens, but this contributes to these greening efforts and paradoxically may spur gentrification and subsequent displacement of the gardens’ stewards and neighbors. “Is proximity to community gardens in less affluent neighborhoods associated with an increased likelihood of gentrification?” Continue reading “Professor Andrew Maroko on Environmental Justice Versus Environmental Gentrification”

New book edited by Prof Setha Low: The Routledge Handbook of Anthropology and the City

Professor Setha Low has edited a new book entitled The Routledge Handbook of Anthropology and the City.

The Routledge Handbook of Anthropology and the City provides a comprehensive study of current and future urban issues on a global and local scale. Premised on an ‘engaged’ approach to urban anthropology, the volume adopts a thematic approach that covers a wide range of modern urban issues, with a particular focus on those of high public interest. Topics covered include security, displacement, social justice, privatization, sustainability, and preservation. Offering valuable insight into how anthropologists investigate, make sense of, and then address a variety of urban issues, each chapter covers key theoretical and methodological concerns alongside rich ethnographic case study material. The volume is an essential reference for students and researchers in urban anthropology, as well as of interest for those in related disciplines, such as urban studies, sociology, and geography.

Setha Low is Professor of Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geography), Environmental Psychology, and Women’s Studies at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA. Her most recent books are Spatializing Culture: The Ethnography of Space and Place (2017), and Spaces of Security: Ethnographies of Securityscapes, Surveillance and Control (2019), edited with M. Maguire. She is former President of the American Anthropological Association and served as Deputy Chair of the World Council of Anthropological Associations.

#EESpublishes: Proff Peter Groffman on Nitrogen oligotrophication in northern hardwood forests

Professor Peter Groffman of ASRC, Brooklyn College, and EES has first-authored a paper in Biogeochemistry entitled “ Nitrogen oligotrophication in northern hardwood forests”.  


While much research over the past 30 years has focused on the deleterious effects of excess N on forests and associated aquatic ecosystems, recent declines in atmospheric N deposition and unexplained declines in N export from these ecosystems have raised new concerns about N oligotrophication, limitations of forest productivity, and the capacity for forests to respond dynamically to disturbance and environmental change. Here we show multiple data streams from long-term ecological research at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire, USA suggesting that N oligotrophication in forest soils is driven by increased carbon flow from the atmosphere through soils that stimulates microbial immobilization of N and decreases available N for plants. Decreased available N in soils can result in increased N resorption by trees, which reduces litterfall N input to soils, further limiting available N supply and leading to further declines in soil N availability. Moreover, N oligotrophication has been likely exacerbated by changes in climate that increase the length of the growing season and decrease production of available N by mineralization during both winter and spring. These results suggest a need to re-evaluate the nature and extent of N cycling in temperate forests and assess how changing conditions will influence forest ecosystem response to multiple, dynamic stresses of global environmental change.

#EESPublishes: EES teams up with City agencies to find long term affordable solution to urban garden soil pollution

PhD student Sara Perl Egendorf and research Advisor Professor Zhongqi (Joshua) Cheng from the Brooklyn College Urban Soils Lab, the New York City Urban Soils Institute and the CUNY Graduate Center PhD Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences were lead authors of an article just published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, along with Dr. Peter Groffman from Brooklyn College and the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, PhD candidate Anna Paltseva, post-doctoral researcher Maha Deeb, undergraduate student Victor Flores, Dr. Daniel Walsh from the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, and Dr. Howard Mielke from Tulane University . Egendorf and Cheng were also co-authors of a related article just published in the Journal of Environmental Management.  The pair of articles presents a practical solution that can help remove the health risk from exposure to contaminants (such as lead) in garden soils. This is a collaboration between Brooklyn College, the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation, GreenThumb (part of the Department of Parks and Recreation), and community organizations such as the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, East New York Farms!, Sterling Community Garden, East 43rd St. Block Association Garden,as well as many individual gardeners. Egendorf’s MS Thesis research at Brooklyn College studied nine raised bed vegetable plots filled with soil mixes composed of variable proportions of pristine Clean Soil Bank sediments and compost material. The team found that the mixed soil can produce sufficient yield of chemically safe vegetables. This engineered clean soil also serves as a barrier to contaminants commonly present in urban garden soils. The use of Clean Soil Bank sediments and compost is a beneficial use of waste material that has historically been transported to landfills. The City has large volumes of clean sediments and compost available. The mixed engineered soil can be a long term and affordable solution to urban soil pollution, one that promotes the many benefits of urban green spaces and gardening. The collaborative method of soil construction and distribution being created here is the first of its kind, and this model is applicable to many other cities around the world.




#EESPublishes: Prof Peter Groffman on Crab Burrowing and Surface Litter Limits in Temperate Salt Marshes

EES, ASRC, and Brooklyn College Professor Peter Groffman co-authored an article in the journal Ecosystems entitled Crab Burrowing Limits Surface Litter Accumulation in a Temperate Salt Marsh: Implications for Ecosystem Functioning and Connectivity.

Abstract: Burial of aboveground plant litter by animals reduces the amount available for surface transport and places it into a different environment, affecting decomposition rates and fluxes of organic matter to adjacent ecosystems. Here we show that in a Southwestern Atlantic salt marsh the burrowing crab Neohelice granulata buries aboveground plant litter at rates (0.5–8 g m−2 day−1) comparable to those of litter production (3 g m−2 day−1). Buried litter has a low probability (0.6%) of returning to the marsh surface. The formation of burrow excavation mounds on the marsh surface is responsible for most litter burial, whereas litter trapped in burrows was an order of magnitude lower than rates of burial under excavation mounds. Crab exclusion markedly increased surface litter accumulation (3.5-fold in just 21 days). Tides with the potential to transport significant amounts of surface litter are infrequent; hence, most litter is buried before it can be transported elsewhere or decomposes on the surface. Crab litter burial can account for the observed low levels of surface litter accumulation in this ecosystem and likely drives organic matter transformation and export. The impacts of ecosystem engineering by this crab species are therefore substantial and comparable in magnitude to the large effects found for tropical crabs and other litter-burying organisms, such as anecic earthworms.

Gutiérrez, J. L., Jones, C. G., Ribeiro, P. D., Findlay, S. E., & Groffman, P. M. (2017). Crab Burrowing Limits Surface Litter Accumulation in a Temperate Salt Marsh: Implications for Ecosystem Functioning and Connectivity. Ecosystems, 1-13.