Where you see manicured lawns and landscaped gardens, Dr. Peter M. Groffman, senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, sees an emerging frontier in our understanding of how urban ecology affects nutrient cycles and ecosystem health in communities across North America.
On May 9, 2017, Professor Groffman was welcomed to Trent University to deliver the 2017 David Schindler Professorship in Aquatic Science lecture in Champlain College’s Great Hall. His talk, titled The Urban Future of Earth: The More We Change, The More It’s All The Same, examined the ecological impacts of the expanding urban environment and how the homogenization of the landscape can be avoided by a balance between environmental quality and human desires, health, and well-being.
“When we went into these studies in the late ‘90s, we were expecting these lawns were going to be nitrogen bombs,” explained Prof. Groffman, whose research aims to better understand the components of urban grasslands. “The environmental performance was not as bad as we thought. We’ve coupled all these studies with social science in terms of what are people really doing on their lawns, how does it vary in different neighbourhoods and why are they doing it?”
In his lecture, Prof. Groffman also touched on “ecological interventions” in cities as a means of “catalyzing positive social change” in decaying neighbourhoods. He noted that talking about grass, yards, and nitrogen pollution is important, but it is also important for us to discuss the solutions for fixing up these neighbourhoods.
Established in 2008, the David Schindler Endowed Professorship in Aquatic Science was gifted to the University to honour the work of Dr. Schindler, who started his career in 1966 as a Trent professor and evolved into one of the world’s leading environmental scientists.