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Opportunity at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Estimating Ecological Benefits from Green Infrastructure in Urban Systems

Location

National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Sustainable Technology Div

RO# Location
22.03.02.B8190 Cincinnati, OH 45268

Advisers

Name E-mail Phone
Hopton, Matthew E hopton.matthew@epa.gov 513.569.7718

Description

Green infrastructure (GI) refers to systems that use vegetation, soils, natural processes, and less impactful technologies to create healthier man-made environments. Green infrastructure-based stormwater management systems mimic natural hydrology to take advantage of interception, evapotranspiration, and infiltration of stormwater runoff, reducing the strain on traditional gray infrastructure solutions like stormwater pipes and sewers. Current US EPA research strives to understand the effectiveness of GI regionally and locally, and to determine how to integrate and incorporate such practices, through partnerships, in an effort to improve water quality and control water quantity. These place-based efforts include field work and modeling to understand how different scales and types of GI fit into urban ecosystems and the ecosystem services GI provides US communities. Research on GI performance, effectiveness, and integration is relatively new and by no means definitive. Natural GI can provide a number of services and benefits that are not well quantified or understood. For instance, the urban forest provides a number of ecosystem services and benefits such as stormwater interception, reduced heat island effect, and potential habitat. Such land use decisions provide a unique opportunity to restore and protect ecosystem functions and services. When properly planned, these areas could then provide ecosystem services such as control of surface runoff, cleaning of water, increased biodiversity, increased primary productivity, etc and lead to system resilience. The possibilities are virtually endless and the actual ecological outcomes of such land use decisions are little understood.

The Water Systems Division uses a multidisciplinary approach, which employs ecologists, economists, engineers, environmental scientists, geographers, and physical scientists, to address sustainability issues in both watershed management and regional environmental management. This opportunity will require collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing data in order to assess management decisions of communities as they attempt to manage stormwater using various GI options. The overall objective is to identify, test, and demonstrate ecological benefits and services provided by GI that relate to sustainability of communities in urban areas. Ideally, the researcher will be an ecologist with a focus on urban ecology and the spatial/temporal aspects relevant to urban green space.

 

References

Berland A, Shiflett S, Shuster WD, Garmestani AS, Goddard H, Herrmann DW, Hopton ME: The importance of trees for urban stormwater management. Landscape and Urban Planning 162: 167-177, 2017

Berland A, Hopton ME: Asian longhorned beetle complicates the relationship between taxonomic diversity and pest vulnerability in street tree assemblages. Arboricultural Journal 38(1): 28-40, 2016

Green OO, Garmestani AS, Albro S, Ban NC, Berland A, Burkman CE, Gardiner MM, Gunderson L, Hopton ME, Schoon ML, Shuster WD: Adaptive governance to promote ecosystem services in repurposed vacant urban spaces. Urban Ecosystems 19: 77-93, 2016

 

Keywords:
Urban ecology; Green infrastructure; Sustainability; Ecologist; Ecosystem service;

Eligibility

Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and non-U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants
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