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A Crosstown Walk to Assess Environmental Changes Along an Urban Socioeconomic Gradient

In this Experiment, students examine the relationships between demographic factors (economic, social, etc.) and environmental quality. Students observe and collect data on the differences in environment and human quality of life along a cross-town transect spanning a socioeconomic gradient in a city. The authors used a transect in Washington, DC that runs along T Street, spanning approximately 25 blocks from 4th Street NE (LeDroit Park) to 20th Street NW (Dupont Circle). The experiment is similar to ecological and environment studies that have traditionally focused on measurements of species distribution and abundance, but this exercise places those measurements within an anthropogenic context and relates environmental conditions to issues of public health and safety.
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Primary or BEN resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords environmental justice; urban; gradient; observation; Washington, DC; demography; anthropogenic
Key taxa human; Homo sapiens
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Description This Experiment is an opportunity for students to collect data to answer environmental questions within an anthropogenic context. Students have likely made informal observations about environmental conditions between neighborhoods within cities, and this field experiment encourages critical thinking about the relationships between an urban gradient and environmental variables. Students gain experience recording and organizing data from their observations. They can also be guided toward researching a group question and collecting data on variables such as: 1) identification, measurement, and determination of the condition of street trees, 2) estimation of bird or insect biodiversity, and 3) determination of the amount and types of greenspaces (tree boxes, lawns, schoolyards, and parks). The activity can be adapted to different urban gradients (cross-urban, urban-rural).
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Howard University, Dept. of Biology

University of Missouri-Columbia, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences
Primary Author email
Rights Copyright 2005 by George Middendorf, Charles Nilon, and the Ecological Society of America.
Date Of Record Submission 2007-11-01

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