School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) Room 278
Thursday, October 22nd
Susan I. Stewart, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station - Evanston, IL
Housing growth in the U.S. has been steady and strong since the 1940s, outpacing population growth as a result of shrinking family size, divorce, and the affluence to afford multiple homes. The impact of housing growth has been felt all across the landscape, but while "urban sprawl" captured the attention of national policy makers, it is arguably the rural expansion of housing developments that has the greatest potential to affect natural resources. Using census data and working in a GIS, we developed methods to create a spatially explicit, fine-scale, long-term dataset for the coterminous U.S. We use the data to investigate the effects of housing on ecological structure and processes, such as avian communities, exotic invasive plant distribution, fire regimes, and landscape patterns. The overarching lesson of all this research is that housing has definite and lasting impacts on ecological systems stemming from the physical changes that result from housing development, and from the human activities centered at the home. Housing growth patterns and forecasts for the U.S. and in Indiana will be displayed, and recommendations proposed for changes in where we build and how we manage residential lots.
Bio: Susan I. Stewart is a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, in Evanston, IL. Her background is in multidisciplinary social sciences, recreation, and resource economics, with degrees from Michigan State University. Her current research interests include seasonal home ownership and use, housing growth, the wildland urban interface, and the ecological implications of housing.