Formed in 2015, the Landscape & Urban Nature Lab is based on the premise that empirical analysis using a spatial framework can provide a common platform to address important issues of ecological management, stewardship, and design. The lab focuses on cities because they represent an increasing proportion of human settlements on the planet, where nature can either be incorporated and encouraged or polluted and excluded, with dramatically different outcomes for people, biodiversity, and the environment as a whole.
Current research efforts focus on four themes: 1) light pollution and its impacts on species, ecosystems, and people; 2) historical ecology as a means to understand landscapes and inspire restoration and management; 3) spatial ecology and conservation at the intersection of cities and nature; and 4) urban bioresource management using spatial tools and approaches such as geodesign.
The lab operates virtually, with personnel located in the USC School of Architecture and the USC Spatial Sciences Institute and with many off-campus collaborators.
The world is experiencing two intersecting trends that define life in the 21stcentury. First, in the ongoing biodiversity crisis species are being lost at a rate matched only by the previous five mass extinction spasms of deep history. Second, human settlement is concentrating in cities at a rate unprecedented in history, with urban life defining human experience on most continents. Our work is based on the premise that these two trends are related, deserve to be understood, and are inherently spatial in nature. They are about the distribution of phenomena on the Earth — and consequently can be better understood and managed with the support of spatial analysis, which allows for creative insights and solutions to cut across scales that include the site, neighborhood, city, watershed, region, continent, and globe.
To understand and improve the conditions in cities both for people and nature is an inherently interdisciplinary endeavor. We seek to ask questions that increase scientific understanding and carry those insights through to inspire design and inform policy. Because finding solutions is even more difficult than diagnosing problems, our work is designed from the start to be applied by decisionmakers addressing these challenges.
Dr. Travis Longcore leads the lab and is joined by project specialists, visiting scholars, graduate students, undergraduate students, and sometimes high school interns. Opportunities are announced and applications are encouraged from all, including historically underrepresented groups and first-generation applicants. We are committed to diversity on our team and in the world.