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**This stream STARTS in the Fall SEMESTER AND Is Not Listed In the stream sort form!**

 

Research Educators: Mary Poteet, Stuart Reichler, and Ruth Shear

Understanding the function of urban ecosystems is important for building more sustainable cities as well as to provide areas of beauty and relaxation for urban dwellers. In this research stream undergraduate students engage in real-world research and problem solving with faculty, staff, and community stakeholders. As an initial study site, we use the Waller Creek watershed, which includes much of the UT campus. With more than 50% impervious cover, Waller Creek is one of the most densely developed urban watersheds in Austin, and provides an ideal testing ground to study degraded ecosystem functioning. Addressing stressors from urbanization and climate change on urban ecosystems, students engage in interdisciplinary research to address key questions in sustainability, biology, molecular biology, ecology, conservation, environmental science, geological sciences, and social sciences that are translatable to other urban centers.

Stream research currently focuses on identifying biotic and abiotic contaminants in the creek to localize their sources, evaluating how urban stressors alter drivers of ecosystem services such as diversity, metabolic regime and riparian function. Students are involved in revitalizing this urban ecosystem in collaboration with the City of Austin, the University of Texas, The Nature Conservancy, and the Waller Creek Conservancy. The data collected from ongoing restoration projects and monitoring overall ecosystem function will allow us to improve infrastructure and develop tools to enhance ecosystem sustainability. As projects in Waller Creek mature, the research focus will expand to additional urban watersheds, parks, and other urban landscapes.

 

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Biology, Chemistry