Reconstructing Developer and Homeowner Decisions to Understand the Complex Assembly of New Residential Patches and Plant Communities
Fuentes, Tracy L
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Residential developers and homeowners are urban ecosystem engineers, shaping the structure and function of the residential landscapes, which occupy a large proportion of urban areas. Developers set the template by allocating space to different patch types and by establishing the initial plant communities in new yards. New homeowners then modify these spaces to suit their own preferences, life stages, and neighborhood norms. We know little about how the decisions of developers and homeowners interact to create the residential land covers. To document initial conditions of single family residential landscapes, I recruited a stratified random sample of 60 homeowners who had purchased a newly built home in the lower Green-Duwamish watershed of the Seattle Metropolitan Statistical Area in Washington State in 2014 or 2015. Through field sampling, aerial photo interpretation, conversations with the new homeowners, and archival photo research, I reconstructed the decisions of the developers and new homeowners. By taking a patch mosaic and plant community approach, I showed that urban form and economic considerations shape developer and homeowner decisions. I also found that homeowner yard use and plant preferences influenced the observed plant community patterns. Future investigations of residential landscapes should incorporate preferences of developers and homeowners, site-specific constraints, and broader scale influences. Further research is needed to understand developer incentives and preferences.
- Urban planning