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Socioeconomic drivers of yard sustainable practices in a tropical city

Elvia J. Meléndez-Ackerman, Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras; Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Raúl Santiago-Bartolomei, Graduate School of Planning, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Cristina P. Vila-Ruiz, Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras; Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Luis E. Santiago, Graduate School of Planning, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Diana García-Montiel, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Julio C. Verdejo-Ortiz, Graduate School of Planning, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Harold Manrique-Hernández, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras
Eduardo Hernández-Calo, Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico at Cayey

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06563-190320

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Abstract

A growing body of work has emphasized the importance of residential areas to the overall green infrastructure of cities and recognizes that outcomes related to these areas are best studied using a social-ecological approach. We conducted vegetation surveys to evaluate yard practices that relate to the state of the yard vegetation, including species diversity and abundance, vegetation structure, and the percent of green area of yards versus paved areas, at the Río Piedras watershed within the San Juan metropolitan area. We used concomitant social household surveys to evaluate the association of social-economic and demographic factors at the household scale with these vegetation characteristics, as well as with landscape-level characteristics related to urban morphology and elevation. Our results for this tropical site were consistent with studies elsewhere in that a greater number of social factors at the household scale were more important in explaining the traits related to how green the yards were. On the other hand, we failed to detect the so-called luxury effect on urban vegetation encountered at many sites. Instead, we found consistent vegetation associations with the age of the residents, housing ownership, and, most importantly, with yard size. We have discussed the potential reasons for these discrepancies and the potential consequences of the human–natural links at the household scale to the future dynamics of this portion of the green infrastructure within this urban watershed.

Key words

biodiversity; green infrastructure; residential yards; social-ecological systems; socioeconomic; sustainability; tropical; urban

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087