You are here: Home / Research Topics / Research Highlights / Individual Highlight

Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Urban Green Areas and Birds Save the Dominican Government and Santo Domingo Residents Millions of Dollars Each Year

Photo of Hispaniola’s endemic Palmchat preying on an insect in an introduced, nitrogen-fixing leguminous species (Albizia lebbeck).
Hispaniola’s endemic Palmchat preying on an insect in an introduced, nitrogen-fixing leguminous species (Albizia lebbeck). Snapshot : In the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo’s green areas and avian communities provide a full complement of ecosystem services to its residents, national and international visitors.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Arendt, PhD, Wayne J. 
Research Location : Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 
Research Station : International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF)
Year : 2019
Highlight ID : 1542

Summary

Global urbanization continues to accelerate at stellar speed, with 60 percent of the human population expected to be living in cities by 2050. Conventional wisdom has presupposed that urban biodiversity, ecosystem function and ecosystem services are inescapably and critically impacted in all urban settings. This belief was predicated on the grounds that deforestation and fragmentation of natural forest, in preparation for intense urban development and expansion, is inevitable, concomitant with the degradation and homogenization of natural habitats, all acerbated by the constantly increasing environmental pollution and the recent surge in internationally vector-borne diseases. But growing numbers of urban research studies are discovering a rich biodiversity among urban plants and animals in temperate and, more recently, tropical cities worldwide. USDA Forest Service researchers and partners are uncovering a spatiotemporal plethora of native and introduced trees, bushes, ornamental plants, and birds along a suburban-to-inner city continuum throughout the greater Santo Domingo metroplex in the Dominican Republic. The city’s native trees sequester air pollutants, reduce urban runoff by rain interception and water infiltration, buffer the thermal environment, and help to remove atmospheric carbon. Resident and migratory birds provide a full complement of ecosystem services (ES) within and among all four ES categories: (1) provisioning: examples are food and feathers; (2) regulatory: several foraging guilds reduce plant pests, diseases and parasites, often with ecological cascading effects; (3) cultural: birds are a major theme of local artisan products and ornaments, and avetourism is booming; and (4) support: trees and birds together ensure and enhance the integrity of Santo Domingo’s environment, ecosystems, habitats, human health and well-being by providing biological, physiological, aesthetic and ecological benefits via healthy and ample green areas, seed production, dispersal and pollination. The monetary value of combined green area and avian ecosystem services is becoming evermore easily calculated and is expressed in millions of dollars of savings across several municipal, medical, socioecological and economic authorities and administrations.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • David L. King – Research Wildlife Biologist, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station
  • David Nowak – Senior Scientist/i-Tree Team Leader Forest Inventory & Analysis
  • Gerald P. Bauer - USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry
  • Tischa Muñoz – USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry
  •  Olga M. Ramos-González – International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service
  •  Susannah B. Lerman – Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station
  • Ecólogo, Técnico de Campo y Analísta de Datos
  • Instituto Nacional de Bosques
  • Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo
  • Ministerio de Educación de Santo Domingo
  • Universidad Centroamericana
  • University of Puerto Rico
  • University of Wisconsin

Strategic
Program Areas

Priority
Areas