100 N. 20th St., Suite 205
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Contact Lara Roman
Urban tree mortality and growth are fundamental components of urban forest models and population projections. Survival and growth also serve as performance metrics for city planting programs. My research focuses on urban forest population dynamics – the cycles of urban tree planting, growth, death and removal – with statistical analysis tools from demography and epidemiology. Mortality and growth studies are essential to sustainably manage urban forest resources, and accurately project population changes from urban planting campaigns, and associated ecological functions and services. My previous research on urban tree mortality include a meta-analysis of past street tree mortality data, and longitudinal field studies in Sacramento and Oakland, CA. Because cities are complex socio-ecological systems, tree growth and death can be influenced by biophysical and human drivers, so interdisciplinary partnerships are important for these studies.
My studies take a participatory research approach, collaborating with non-profit organizations and municipal arborists for project design and implementation. A current example of this is the development of standard protocols for urban tree monitoring, which is a collaborative effort among urban forest researchers, practitioners, and students to advance our understanding of urban tree growth, mortality, and longevity. While cities rely on urban forest assessments, such as inventories and canopy cover analysis, to guide management, planning, and policy, long-term monitoring and associated mortality data are key missing pieces. Both scientists and community groups are interested in monitoring. While scientists begin to implement urban monitoring programs (e.g., Urban FIA), numerous local practitioners have also been collecting tree monitoring data. However, methods and rigor vary widely. These organizations often lack the resources to conduct comprehensive monitoring studies and analyze the results. In the same way that urban forest researchers have provided tools for practitioners to inventory their trees, we can also provide assistance for long-term monitoring to assess survival and growth, building on existing standards and technology platforms. I am leading a national effort to standardize urban tree monitoring field protocols for practitioners. These protocols will enable comparisons across cities and programs by promoting standard data collection and information sharing among researchers, citizen scientists, arboriculture professionals.
Future research interests include interpreting urban tree mortality from a socio-ecological systems framework, urban tree growth, connecting field-based studies of urban tree demography to canopy cover change, citizen science in urban forestry, and urban tree diversity.
- University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. Environmental Science, Policy & Management. Dissertation title: Urban tree mortality., 2013
- University of Pennsylvania, Master of Environmental Studies Concentration in Environmental Biology, 2005
- University of Pennsylvania, B.A. Biology, Concentration in Ecology and Evolution, 2004
- Urban Tree Growth & Longevity Working Group, Secretary (2010 - Current)
- Ecological Society of America, Member (2007 - Current)
- International Society of Arboriculture, Member (2007 - Current)
Publications & Products
- Roman, Lara A.; McPherson, E. Gregory; Scharenbroch, Bryant C.; Bartens, Julia. 2013. Identifying common practices and challenges for local urban tree monitoring programs across the United States.
- Roman, Lara A.; Battles, John J.; McBride, Joe R. 2013. The balance of planting and mortality in a street tree population.