Posts

Evolution of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study

Since 1997, the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) has enjoyed the support of the Long-Term Ecological Research Program of the Division of Environmental Biology of the US National Science Foundation. That support is coming to an end, but the Baltimore Ecosystem Study will live on, due to the desire of key partners who have been joined […]

How Does a Long-Term Study Adjust Its Framework while Preserving Data Integrity?

Long-term ecological research is faced with seemingly contradictory constraints: It must maintain a consistent stream of rigorously comparable data over time while at the same time responding to conceptual and theoretical changes in the disciplines underlying those data.  How can such opposing  constraints be reconciled?  BES has faced this challenge in developing its most recent […]

Where did Urban Ecology Come From? Zev Naveh and the Total Human Ecosystem

Encountering Zev Naveh – A force of nature One answer to the question of where urban ecology came from has to point to Zev Naveh.  When I first heard Zev Naveh (1919-2011) a professor at Israel’s Technion, talking about the “total human ecosystem,” I didn’t get it.   Zev, whom I later hosted on a […]

Shifting Urban Realities and Nature Beyond Parks

Traditionally, cities have been thought of as distinct from nature.  In fact, they have often been considered to be the antithesis of nature.  Ecological science in the past seemed to agree with these assumptions, and ignored cities in favor of wilderness or at least sparsely inhabited places.  During this traditional phase, nature was though of […]

The Science of Connection in a Disconnected Place

The news from Baltimore has been sad and disturbing over the past few weeks.  Urban ecologists, like all ecologists, I think, love the places where they work.  So I must remark on what is happening in Baltimore and what it means to me, as a scientist who has committed more than two decades to research […]

Weeds and the City

Few ideas are as loaded — and as controversial — as that of “weed.”  Combine this familiar term with the equally problematic term urban, and surely, confusion is guaranteed to reign.  However Zachary Falck, an environmental historian, acts as a knowledgeable and confident guide into this troubled intellectual territory.  He has written the well documented […]

BES Book of the Year — Baltimore: The Building of an American City

We have started a new tradition at BES.  A book of the year is a good way to focus on some important publication relevant to everyone in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.  We start this tradition with a classic and fundamental book about the history and development of Baltimore: Professor Sherry H. Olson’s Baltimore: The Building […]

Swamps and the City: Part II

A special guest post by Prof. Grace S. Brush, Johns Hopkins University. My last post discussed how the role of people in shaping the swampy systems of the Everglades had been erased.  That erasure paralleled how biophysical processes had in the past been ignored in thinking about urban systems.  Because Baltimore is a coastal city, […]

Natural Experiments of History

The title of this essay is the same as a book edited by Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson, published in 2010 by Harvard University Press.  The book explores the general method of natural experiments applied to human societies and history.  It was tempting to title this essay “Cultural Experiments,” because the emphasis of their […]