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Socioecological Gradients and Land Fragmentation in the US Southwest: A Cross-Site Comparative Study

This research project was part of my post-doctoral work with the Central Arizona – Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research Program (CAP LTER). My main focus was to analyze the patterns and drivers of land fragmentation using social data, remote sensing images, and landscape metrics. Land fragmentation is a major concern in rapidly urbanizing cities of the Southwest, mostly caused by discontinuous, low-density development over the last few decades. It has negative consequences for socio-ecological systems through disconnecting habitat, destroying migration corridors, increasing costs of public service provision, and increasing transportation distances from home to work. This cross-LTER site research initiative funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant # DEB-0423704) examined land fragmentation across the five cities and metropolitan areas associated with the Central Arizona-Phoenix (Phoenix, Arizona), Sevilleta (Albuquerque, New Mexico), Jornada (Las Cruces, New Mexico), Short Grass Steppe (Fort Collins, Colorado), and Konza Prairie (Manhattan, Kansas) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites.

Related publications:
S. Zhang, A York, C. Boone, and M Shrestha. 2013. Methodological Advances in the Spatial Analysis of Land Fragmentation. Professional Geographer, 65 (3), 512-526. DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2012.700501

Shrestha, M., A York, C. Boone, and S. Zhang. 2012. Land Fragmentation due to Rapid Urbanization in the Metropolitan Phoenix Area: Analyzing the Spatiotemporal Patterns and Drivers. Applied Geography, 32(2): 522-531. DOI:10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.04.004

York, A., M. Shrestha, C. Boone, and S. Zhang. 2011. Land Fragmentation under Rapid Urbanization: A Cross-site Comparative Analysis. Urban Ecosystems, 14 (3): 429–455. DOI: 10.1007/s11252-011-0157-8, 2011