Project Title: Effects of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) and local habitat quality on anurans in remnant and stormwater control ponds in the Charlotte Metropolitan Region
Project Description: My project(s) will be collecting data from across the Charlotte Metro Region by listening to anuran (frog and toad) calls. I will be surveying about 70 permanent ponds, some anthropogenic stormwater control measures, for anuran breeding activity and habitat factors (ie. vegetation, temperature, humidity, etc.). Anurans are known to respond strongly to changes in temperature and relative humidity, however, no published studies have researched the effects of the urban heat island, caused by urbanization, on anurans. I hope to further understand if the UHI present in Charlotte has impacted any of the local anuran’s breeding seasons or altered their native ranges.
Increasing urbanization also means more fragmentation and degradation of anuran’s natural habitats. Due to these factors, anurans resort to using anthropogenic stormwater control measures for breeding purposes. I hope to look at local native anuran species and habitat factors they correlate most with to further understand which habitat factors they are drawn to within the Charlotte area. Hopefully, this will allow the designing of stormwater control measures that not only mitigate the influx of stormwater, but also increase biodiversity within our city.
Abel Ayon Munguia
Project Title: The relative effects of habitat amount, habitat configuration, and urbanization on forest breeding birds
Project Description: I am investigating the relative effects that different aspects of landscape structure have on forest breeding birds in the state of Pennsylvania. My primary data source is the 2nd Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas (see http://www.pabirdatlas.psu.edu/), which was a coordinated effort conducted between 2004 and 2009 to map the distributions of all the birds breeding within the state. This effort resulted in the collection of over 33,000 point counts. Using remote sensing data, I am measuring forest amount, forest fragmentation, and the extent of urbanization around point counts to determine which aspect of landscape structure has the strongest influence on breeding birds. It is my hope that this research will be widely applied to determine the appropriate prioritization of resources to manage for avian conservation in urbanizing areas.
Information to come.
Project Title: Exploring the effects of urbanization on biodiversity in remnant forests of the Charlotte metropolitan region.
My research addresses the following questions: (1) what are the patterns of carabid beetle diversity at urban forest edges?; (2) are these patterns related to environmental gradients at urban forest edges?; and (3) how does land use influence patterns of carabid diversity at forest edges? Only a few studies have looked at forest edge effects in an urban context. These studies have been dominated by subjective comparisons between interior and edge habitats, an assumption of linearity, and the neglect of potential edge effects on the non-forest side of the edge. My research will use objective analysis to identify boundaries in biodiversity patterns on both sides of urban forest edges.
I collected carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and environmental data (temperature, relative humidity, percent vegetation cover, canopy cover, micro-relief, and slope) in a 200m x 200m grid pattern on either side of a forest edge with residential development at three nature preserves in the Charlotte Metropolitan Region, USA. The nature preserves were surrounded by landscapes dominated by urban-, suburban-, or exurban-density development. I am going to use lattice-wombling and boundary detection analysis to identify boundaries in beetle diversity and environmental variables at the forest edge. I will then compare the results of my analyses among nature preserves to determine the effect of landscape context on boundary patterns.
Socioeconomic Factors that Promote the Adoption of Green Infrastructure
The main goal of my project is to determine the major factors (both social and economic) that influence the adoption of green infrastructure. Green infrastructure can describe any type of construction or design that lessens the impact of development on the environment – including green (living) roofs, vegetated swales, bioretention cells, porous pavement, etc. While identifying these factors I am also trying to establish a hierarchy of importance as well; what factors have more influence on making choices to adopt green infrastructure than others? This part of my project will be done through an extensive literature review.
An additional part of my project is a case study on Charlotte, North Carolina. Surveys are being sent to local businesses (private residences have been excluded) with green roofs to determine the factors that caused them to make their decision to choose a green roof over a conventional roof. In addition, surveys are being sent to construction and engineering firms that install green roofs to learn more about their projects and why clients choose green roofs over conventional roofs. I am also incorporating data collected in the summer of 2012 at the Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Charlotte relating insect data, weekly temperature readings, and plant coverage on the green roof there to determine if there is a significant correlation between them and what implications it may have.
I received my B.A. in Geographic Techniques at the University of Memphis under the advisement of Dr. Gregory Taff. I am currently a M.A. candidate of Geography at UNC Charlotte with a concentration in GIS. I am co-advised by Dr. Sara Gagne and Dr. Ross Meentemeyer. My interests lie within a combination of GIS and remote sensing, statistical modeling, urban ecology, and landscape ecology. I apply GIS techniques to better understand human/environment interactions. My current research analyzes the influence of socioeconomic variables in statistical models that predict the probability of interacting with a coyote in urban areas.
UNC Charlotte Center for STEM Education Research Experience
The objective of my project was to determine if the biomass percent cover and biodiversity of a green roof had an effect on the amount of storm water runoff it retained. This project entailed the research on green roofs, research on each species of plant in the work area, statistical comparison and working outdoors with an elevated green roof.
Excellence in Biotechnology award from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center
Student Award for Geoscience Excellence from the Association for Women Geoscientists
Second place; Certificate of Achievement from the North Carolina American Water Works Association & the North Carolina Water Environment Association.
U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize regional award and nomination for the Stockholm state competition, sponsored by the Water Environment Federation.