William R. Burch

Frederick C. Hixon Professor Emeritus of Natural Resource Management and Senior Research Scientist

Research Overview

Human Settlements Long Term Ecosystem Research

1) Co-PI, Human Settlements as Ecosystems:Metropolitan Baltimore. NSF Long Term Ecosystem Research Site There are 13 PI’s from a variety of disciplines and institutions. Support comes from the National Science Foundation, the USFS, EPA and Private Foundations. It is managed by the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY. Dr. Steward Pickett, an ecologist, botanist, is the project director. It started in 1998 and has had its mid term review. Development of continuation proposal, as required by NSF-LTER office is being completed.

2) The research is guided by three broad questions: 1) How do the spatial structure of socio-eonomic, ecological, and physical factors in an urban area relate to one another, and how do they change through time? 2) What are the fluxes of energy, matter, capital, and population in urban systems, and how do they change over time? 3) How can people develop and use an understanding of the metropolis as an ecological system to improve the quality of their environment, and to reduce pollution loadings to downstream air and watersheds. We address these questions at a range of scales from the Chesapeake Bay\Baltimore, Maryland metro region, to small watersheds, social patches within them, neighborhood units, households and individuals.

3) There are three unifying conceptual themes that are expressed in our integrated framework. These themes are: urban areas are ecological systems, humans should be studied from ecological and spatial perspectives, human ecosystems must be studied in the long term. Three kinds of data sets are used to fill out and to ‘test’ the framework. Historical (including paleoecological data), descriptive and experimental. Burch, along with his colleagues in the Demographic\Social research group, has responsibility for testing the patch analysis as it applies to human groupings. Questions, are the same for the socio-economic concerns as they are for the biophysical researchers–what are the measurable patch structures, patch functions, patch dynamics, mechanisms of change and education, application and outreach possibilities? There are 8 hypotheses guiding this effort. The most critical for the behavioral science research is: “There are coherent relationships between ecological, socio-political and physical patch structures within an urban ecosystem that control ecological functions related to the fluxes of water, nutrients and carbon, and to biodiversity.” This theoretical approach deepens and expands traditional social area, human ecology and community studies in the social sciences and it reconnects social science to the biophysical realities and constraints shaping human action and desire.

4) This shift in traditional social science approaches has required the development and testing of new techniques of data collection, measurement and methods of analysis. Geographic Information System approaches as well as traditional statistical analyses are used. We are triangulating several sets of data–1.biophysical\infrastructural information from aerial photos, public records and legal factors such as zoning to identify constraints and opportunities shaping structure of social patches, 2.re-analysis and reconfiguration of census data to identify demographic, household and social status constraints and opportunities shaping patch untis,3. use of prizm clusters of market research data for zip code units that help to identify patch status and consumption patterns,4 a telephone survey to identify recreation and community cohesion observations that relate to behavioral valuation of hydrological factors, 5. a systematic observation schedule and neighborhood sampling strategy to ground truth behavioral regularities within the patches.

Developing Biosocial Techniques For Monitoring and Evaluation of Ecosystem Restoration Activities

This research is funded by William Penn Foundation and involves an interdisciplinary team monitoring and evaluating the 23 million dollar ecosystem restoration effort in the Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park watershed system. Identification of the work is found in our quarterly reports which can be supplied upon request. This is a 5-6 year effort.

Analysis and Evaluation of Community Based Natural Resource Management Activities

This research has gone on for better than 30 years at sites in the USA, Latin America, Asia and presently Britain. There is a corpus of papers, books and book chapters on this research. The most recent is the John Eadie Fellowship awarded by the Scottish Forest Trust to examine the range of ‘community forestry’ activities in Britain. Also, work on ‘sustainability’ science as sought by the National Research Council, ‘Our Common Journey–A Transition Toward Sustainability’ (2001) is being carried out in Peoples Republic of China with the Sustainable Development Leadership Project. Details on this research can be found in reports and talks that can be provided on request. This research is a mixture of scholarship and science. 1) Co-PI, Human Settlements as Ecosystems:Metropolitan Baltimore. NSF Long Term Ecosystem Research Site There are 13 PI’s from a variety of disciplines and institutions. Support comes from the National Science Foundation, the USFS, EPA and Private Foundations. It is managed by the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY. Dr. Steward Pickett, an ecologist, botanist, is the project director. It started in 1998 and has had its mid term review. Development of continuation proposal, as required by NSF-LTER office is being completed. 2) The research is guided by three broad questions: 1) How do the spatial structure of socio-eonomic, ecological, and physical factors in an urban area relate to one another, and how do they change through time? 2) What are the fluxes of energy, matter, capital, and population in urban systems, and how do they change over time? 3) How can people develop and use an understanding of the metropolis as an ecological system to improve the quality of their environment, and to reduce pollution loadings to downstream air and watersheds. We address these questions at a range of scales from the Chesapeake Bay\Baltimore, Maryland metro region, to small watersheds, social patches within them, neighborhood units, households and individuals. 3) There are three unifying conceptual themes that are expressed in our integrated framework. These themes are: urban areas are ecological systems, humans should be studied from ecological and spatial perspectives, human ecosystems must be studied in the long term. Three kinds of data sets are used to fill out and to ‘test’ the framework. Historical (including paleoecological data), descriptive and experimental. Burch, along with his colleagues in the Demographic\Social research group, has responsibility for testing the patch analysis as it applies to human groupings. Questions, are the same for the socio-economic concerns as they are for the biophysical researchers–what are the measurable patch structures, patch functions, patch dynamics, mechanisms of change and education, application and outreach possibilities? There are 8 hypotheses guiding this effort. The most critical for the behavioral science research is: “There are coherent relationships between ecological, socio-political and physical patch structures within an urban ecosystem that control ecological functions related to the fluxes of water, nutrients and carbon, and to biodiversity.” This theoretical approach deepens and expands traditional social area, human ecology and community studies in the social sciences and it reconnects social science to the biophysical realities and constraints shaping human action and desire. 4) This shift in traditional social science approaches has required the development and testing of new techniques of data collection, measurement and methods of analysis. Geographic Information System approaches as well as traditional statistical analyses are used. We are triangulating several sets of data–1.biophysical\infrastructural information from aerial photos, public records and legal factors such as zoning to identify constraints and opportunities shaping structure of social patches, 2.re-analysis and reconfiguration of census data to identify demographic, household and social status constraints and opportunities shaping patch untis,3. use of prizm clusters of market research data for zip code units that help to identify patch status and consumption patterns,4 a telephone survey to identify recreation and community cohesion observations that relate to behavioral valuation of hydrological factors, 5. a systematic observation schedule and neighborhood sampling strategy to ground truth behavioral regularities within the patches.

Biosocial Techniques For Monitoring and Evaluation of Ecosystem Restoration Activities

This research is funded by William Penn Foundation and involves an interdisciplinary team monitoring and evaluating the 23 million dollar ecosystem restoration effort in the Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park watershed system. Identification of the work is found in our quarterly reports which can be supplied upon request. This is a 5-6 year effort.