Comparing Human and Semihuman Environments in a ~1 mile x 1 mile Square of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Installment 1

Overview

Humans are ecosystem engineers, creating urban spaces the world has never seen the likes of before. As we seek to change and improve our cities for better human quality of life and longevity, we affect the species we share our spaces with; we are not apart from nature but rather a part of nature. I am seeking to study how urban physical structure and natural phenomena interrelate.

Questions

What kind of biodiversity is there in this area? How does this compare to the city at large?

How do human and semihuman environments relate in this area?

What kinds of innovations might promote both human welfare in this area and biodiversity in this area?

Key Definitions & Tools

Tools

iNaturalist

Google Maps

The inspiration sources listed below

Myself (I measured my own foot and am using that as measurement, because I’m not standing in the road with a yardstick – more on this later)

Definitions

Semihuman environment Urban space available to human populations but not capitalized upon by humans; such as small unfenced urban lawns, tree canopies, or airspace

Human environment Urban space directly created by and capitalized upon by humans; such as parks, apartment complexes, or roads

Green corridor Continuous vegetation connecting larger areas of vegetation; these are sometimes built purposely by cities

Biodiversity Variety of life in the ecosystem(s) at hand

Ecosystem engineer An organism that physically and/or chemically affects its environment in such a way that it creates niches for other organisms to take advantage of; such as ants and humans

Field & Reasoning

I’ve chosen this tiny portion of the city of Pittsburgh because it’s (mostly) easily traversable, easy to reach by public transit, and well-mixed between residential areas, commercial areas, parks, and different types of roads. It also represents a mix of cultures and residential age/wealth groups. I also did a project on a nearby area for my certificate and explored it for a separate project as an undergrad, so I’m familiar with this area.

Inspiration

  1. Darwin Comes to Town by Menno Schilthuizen
  2. MIT Media Lab and GetSmarter’s Beyond Smart Cities course
  3. MoveForwardPGH
  4. The Humane Gardener by Nancy Lawson

Keep your eyes peeled for the following installments, where I really get into the work! This’ll be over a large chunk of time since I really want to put effort in and this isn’t an easy thing to do. Wish me luck! ✿


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