Ecohydrology frameworks for green infrastructure design and ecosystem service provision

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 11:50 AM
Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, Angela Knerl and Greg Barron-Gafford, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States
Urbanization is a dominant form of landscape change that affects the structure and function of ecosystems and alters control points in biogeochemical and hydrologic cycles. Green infrastructure (GI) has been proposed as a solution to many urban environmental challenges and may be a way to manage biogeochemical control points. Despite this promise, there has been relatively limited empirical focus to evaluate the efficacy of GI, relationships between design and function, and the ability of GI to provide ecosystem services in cities. This work has been driven by goals of adapting GI approaches to dryland cities and to harvest rain and storm water for providing ecosystem services related to storm water management and urban heat island mitigation, as well as other co-benefits. We will present a modification of ecohydrologic theory for guiding the design and function of green infrastructure for dryland systems that highlights how GI functions in context of Trigger – Transfer – Reserve – Pulse (TTRP) dynamic framework. Here we also apply this TTRP framework to observations of established street-scape green infrastructure in Tucson, AZ, and an experimental installation of green infrastructure basins on the campus of Biosphere 2 (Oracle, AZ) where we have been measuring plant performance and soil biogeochemical functions. We found variable sensitivity of microbial activity, soil respiration, N-mineralization, photosynthesis and respiration that was mediated both by elements of basin design (soil texture and composition, choice of surface mulches) and antecedent precipitation inputs and soil moisture conditions. The adapted TTRP framework and field studies suggest that there are strong connections between design and function that have implications for stormwater management and ecosystem service provision in dryland cities.