Colorado mountains
From Long-Term Data to Understanding: Toward a Predictive Ecology
2015 LTER ASM Estes Park, CO - August 30 - September 2, 2015

Updates on the Spatio-temporal Patterns of Land Fragmentation in Phoenix: Analyzing the Urban Conversion of Agriculture Land

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Presenter/Primary Author: 
Milan Shrestha
Abigail M. York

Our research has shown that the Phoenix Metropolitan Area experienced an aggressive rate of land fragmentation in the last three decades (York et al., 2011; Shrestha, York, Boone and Zhang, 2012). One of the key spatio-temporal patterns identified is an increasing fragmentation of desert landscapes and agricultural lands in the peri-urban areas, raising concerns about the impacts on the desert socioecological ecosystems and supporting services (e.g., soil sealing, loss of open space, recharge of local aquifers, rural scenic quality, food provisioning). This poster provides an update on the on-going effort to further advance our land fragmentation study and examine how sprawl is linked with the loss and fragmentation of peri-urban agricultural land in Phoenix. Although its influence in the local economy has significantly diminished over the last three decades, agriculture remains a critical factor in determining the future pathways of urbanization in this desert city, mainly because of the water rights and the economic values held by agricultural lands. Understanding how this urban conversion of agricultural land is associated with sprawl is important to predict impacts of urbanization expansion in the peri-urban areas--all critical for urban ecology as well as the legacy of arid land agriculture in the US Southwest.