100 N. 20th St., Suite 205
Contact Lara Roman
My research addresses broad questions about how urban forests change over time. Urban forests are the collection of trees in cities, towns, and suburbs, including trees along streets, in residential yards and landscaped parks, as well as urban natural areas. My work primarily concerns the parts of the urban forest that are under direct human control, such as street and yard trees. The temporal dynamics of urban forest systems involve both social and ecological drivers, including decision-making by tree professionals and arborists as well as biophysical stressors at multiple scales. Studies include:
Field monitoring of tree mortality, growth and health. Through partnerships with various non-profit urban greening organizations and municipal forestry agencies, I lead and support longitudinal data collection of urban trees. This includes tracking cohorts of trees planted through particular programs as well as repeat inventories of multi-aged trees in a given landscape. Statistical analyses reveal the factors that are associated with mortality and low vigor, pointing to potential areas of intervention for managers. Past research showed the crucial role of maintenance and stewardship in young tree survival – with maintenance (or lack thereof) sometimes dominating the findings – leading to new projects to experimentally test interventions that promote stewardship behaviors among residents.
Urban tree canopy cover. Many cities have set ambitious goals to increase canopy cover levels. Because trees are fundamentally slow-growing organisms, long-term assessments (at decadal time scales) are needed to assess the impacts of various programs and events on tree cover. Using historical aerial photography, paired with archival historical research, I investigate the decision-making that impacts long-term tree cover changes.
Historical investigations of legacy effects. Urban forests are an inherited landscape, reflecting past disturbance events (e.g., storms, invasive pests and pathogens) as well as past decisions by tree professionals, residents, and other actors. The legacy effects of past phenomena shape the urban forest that we observe and experience today. I use archival records such as city park reports, newspapers, and nursery catalogues to understand how urban forests have developed over the past century.
Co-production of knowledge and citizen science. My studies take a participatory approach to the research process, involving colleagues from the professional urban forestry sector to generate new research questions, design projects, and interpret results. This kind of co-production of knowledge leads to more actionable research that addresses the real-world needs of resource managers. For example, many local urban forestry organizations have used volunteers in data collection (i.e., citizen science), and research on citizen science data quality enables program managers to decide the appropriateness of volunteer-generated data for their needs.
urban ecosystems; urban forests; tree demography; citizen science; participatory research; urban tree canopy cover; urban environmental history
Why This Research is Important
Cities in the United States and around the world have engaged in ambitious programs to plant trees and increase tree cover. Research about temporal dynamics in urban forests – whether field studies lasting a few years, land cover change analysis over several decades, or historical assessments stretching back over a century – allows a deeper understanding of how change happens in these deeply entwined social-ecological systems. Furthermore, the spatial patterns observed in today’s urban forests – such as tree cover and species composition – can only be fully understood in light of the temporal dynamics that produced those patterns.
- University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. Environmental Science, Policy & Management. Dissertation title: Urban tree mortality. 2013
- University of Pennsylvania, B.A. Biology, Concentration in Ecology and Evolution 2004
- Ecological Society of America, Member (2007 - Current)
- International Society of Arboriculture, Member (2007 - Current)
- Urban Tree Growth & Longevity Working Group, Chair (2015 - 2019)
- Berland, Adam ; Roman, Lara A.; Vogt, Jess . 2019. Can Field Crews Telecommute Varied Data Quality from Citizen Science Tree Inventories Conducted Using Street-Level Imagery.
- Hilbert, Deborah R.; Koeser, Andrew K.; Roman, Lara A.; Hamilton, Keir ; Landry, Shawn M.; Hauer, Richard J.; Campanella, Haley ; McLean, Drew ; Andreu, Michael ; Perez, Hector . 2019. Development practices and ordinances predict inter-city variation in Florida urban tree canopy coverage.
- Blair, Seth A.; Koeser, Andrew K.; Knox, Gary W.; Roman, Lara A.; Thetford, Mack ; Hilbert, Deborah R. 2019. Health and establishment of highway plantings in Florida (United States).
- Hand, Michael S.; Roman, Lara A.; Locke, Dexter Henry; Fichman, Erica Smith. 2019. Phone-call reminders narrow the intention-action gap by increasing follow-through for a residential tree giveaway program.
- Hilbert, Deborah R.; Roman, Lara A.; Koeser, Andrew K.; Vogt, Jess ; van Doorn, Natalie S. 2019. Urban Tree Mortality: A Literature Review.
- Breger, Benjamin S.; Eisenman, Theodore S.; Kremer, Madison E.; Roman, Lara A.; Martin, Deborah G.; Rogan, John . 2019. Urban tree survival and stewardship in a state-managed planting initiative: A case study in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
- Blair, Seth A.; Koeser, Andrew K.; Knox, Gary W.; Roman, Lara A.; Thetford, Mack . 2019. Visual health assessments for palms.
- Roman, Laura A.; Campbell, Lindsay K.; Jordan, Rebecca C. 2018. Civic science in urban forestry: Engaging the public in data collection, knowledge production, and stewardship.
- Roman, Lara A.; Campbell, Lindsay K.; Jordan, Rebecca C. 2018. Civic science in urban forestry: Introduction to a second special issue.
- Roman, Lara A.; Pearsall, Hamil; Eisenman, Theodore S.; Conway, Tenley M.; Fahey, Robert T.; Landry, Shawn; Vogt, Jess; van Doorn, Natalie S.; Grove, J. Morgan; Locke, Dexter H.; Bardekjian, Adrina C.; Battles, John J.; Cadenasso, Mary L.; van den Bosch, Cecil C. Konijnendijk; Avolio, Meghan; Berland, Adam; Jenerette, G. Darrel; Mincey, Sarah K.; Pataki, Diane E.; Staudhammer, Christina. 2018. Human and biophysical legacies shape contemporary urban forests: A literature synthesis.
- Roman, Lara A.; Smith, Bailey C.; Dentice, Dana ; Maslin, Mindy ; Abrams, Glen . 2018. Monitoring young tree performance with citizen scientists: The evolving Tree Checkers program in Philadelphia, PA.
- Elmes, Arthur; Rogan, John; Roman, Lara A.; Williams, Christopher A.; Ratick, Samuel J.; Nowak, David J.; Martin, Deborah G. 2018. Predictors of mortality for juvenile trees in a residential urban-to-rural cohort in Worcester, MA.
- Scharenbroch, Bryant C.; Carter, David ; Bialecki, Margaret ; Fahey, Robert ; Scheberl, Luke ; Catania, Michelle ; Roman, Lara A.; Bassuk, Nina ; Harper, Richard W.; Werner, Les ; Siewert, Alan ; Miller, Stephanie ; Hutyra, Lucy ; Raciti, Steve . 2017. A rapid urban site index for assessing the quality of street tree planting sites.
- Roman, Lara A.; Nguyen, Vi D.; Locke, Dexter H.; Mincey, Sarah K.; Sanders, Jessica R.; Fichman, Erica S.; Duran-Mitchell, Mike ; Tobing, Sarah L. 2017. Best practices for yard tree distribution programs.
- Nguyen, Vi D.; Roman, Lara A.; Locke, Dexter H.; Mincey, Sarah K.; Sanders, Jessica R.; Smith Fichman, Erica; Duran-Mitchell, Mike; Lumban Tobing, Sarah. 2017. Branching out to residential lands: Missions and strategies of five tree distribution programs in the U.S..
- Roman, Lara A.; Scharenbroch, Bryant C.; Ostberg, Johan P.A.; Mueller, Lee S.; Henning, Jason G.; Koeser, Andrew K.; Sanders, Jessica R.; Betz, Daniel R.; Jordan, Rebecca C. 2017. Data quality in citizen science urban tree inventories.
- Roman, Lara A.; Fristensky, Jason P.; Eisenman, Theodore S.; Greenfield, Eric J.; Lundgren, Robert E.; Cerwinka, Chloe E.; Hewitt, David A.; Welsh, Caitlin C. 2017. Growing Canopy on a College Campus: Understanding Urban Forest Change through Archival Records and Aerial Photography.
- Boyer, Deborah J.; Roman, Lara A.; Henning, Jason G.; McFarland, Matthew; Dentice, Dana; Low, Sarah C.; Thomas, Casey; Abrams, Glen. 2016. Data management for urban tree monitoring -- software requirements.
- Ko, Yekang; Roman, Lara A.; McPherson, E. Gregory; Lee, Junhak. 2016. Does tree planting pay us back Lessons from Sacramento, CA.
- Campbell, Lindsay K.; Svendsen, Erika S.; Roman, Lara A. 2016. Knowledge Co-production at the Research-Practice Interface: Embedded Case Studies from Urban Forestry.
- Nowak, David J.; Bodine, Allison R.; Hoehn, Robert; Ellis, Alexis; Low, Sarah C.; Roman, Lara A.; Henning, Jason G.; Stephan, Emily; Taggert, Tom; Endreny, Ted. 2016. The urban forests of Philadelphia.
- Roman, Lara A.; Battles, John J.; McBride, Joe R. 2016. Urban tree mortality: a primer on demographic approaches.
- Ko, Yekang; Lee, Jun-Hak; McPherson, E. Gregory; Roman, Lara A. 2015. Factors affecting long-term mortality of residential shade trees: evidence from Sacramento, California.
- Ko, Yekang; Lee, Jun-Hak; McPherson, E. Gregory; Roman, Lara A. 2015. Long-term monitoring of Sacramento Shade program trees: tree survival, growth and energy-saving performance.
- Roman, Lara A.; Walker, Lindsey A.; Martineau, Catherine M.; Muffly, David J.; MacQueen, Susan A.; Harris, Winnie. 2015. Stewardship matters: Case studies in establishment success of urban trees.
- Locke, Dexter H.; Roman, Lara A.; Murphy-Dunning, Colleen . 2015. Why opt-in to a planting program Long-term residents value street tree aesthetics.
- Roman, Lara A.; Battles, John J.; McBride, Joe R. 2014. Determinants of establishment survival for residential trees in Sacramento County, CA.
- Roman, Lara A. 2014. How many trees are enough Tree death and the urban canopy.
- Scharenbroch, B.C. ; Roman, L.A. ; McPherson, E.G. ; Bartens, J. ; Boyer, D. . 2014. The pulse of the urban forest working group focused on urban tree growth and longevity.
- 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.