Green Infrastructure Services and Disservices

Beyond their role in controlling stormwater runoff, bioretention systems also provide additional ecosystem services (and even disservices) to people. Key ecosystem services include provisioning services (harvest of stormwater for irrigation or in-home use), regulating services (temperature moderation and carbon sequestration), cultural services (recreational, educational, and aesthetic), and supporting services like nutrient cycling. At present, many green infrastructure ecosystem services are poorly understood (and thus undervalued), and the relationships between putative drivers (social, ecological or hydrological) and realized ecosystem services suites remain un-elucidated.

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I am particularly interested in the following research questions: (1) Is there a typical balance of ecosystem services and/or disservices in stormwater bioretention systems?, (2) Are the drivers of this balance primarily social or ecological?, (3) To what extent is ecosystem service or disservice provisioning path dependent; i.e., dependent on original siting, design, ecological or service-related goals?, (4) Are there positive socio-ecological feedback loops that “trap” bioretention systems in under-performing or innovative states (and how do we move from the former to the latter)?, and (5) Does situating bioretention systems with multifunctionality as a prime objective increase the provisioning of ecosystem services to people and/or the perceived value of bioretention to the public?

Schematic of ecosystem services and disservices in stormwater bioretention systems and their drivers. Select services and disservices I currently study are shown in blue and red, respectively

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