Ecological homogenization of urban America

Does the environment of a city share more similarities with other cities than it does with its native habitat?  In this 1423project, we are investigating how plant community composition and diversity, microclimate, soils, and homeowner preferences and characteristics vary in residential yards and native landscapes among six, climatically-distinct cities in the US. In each city, we draw from the expertise of interdisciplinary teams of social scientists and natural scientists to identify the drivers and outcomes of residential landscape management at continental scales.  Read more about our project here.

The cities involved in this project include Phoenix, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Baltimore, Miami, and Boston. Can you identify the cities from their skylines on the right (A – F), and match them to the appropriate native habitat on the left (1 – 6)?


Get answers here!

Native ecosystems within/near our study cities: 1. Baltimore 2. Miami 3. Boston 4. Phoenix 5. Los Angeles 6. Minneapolis-St.Paul


Our study cities: A. Baltimore B. Los Angeles C. Minneapolis D. Phoenix E. Boston F. Miami

Dr. Sharon J. Hall, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

Dr. Kelli Larson, School of Geographical Sci & Urban Planning, Arizona State University

Dr. Ben Ruddell, School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, NAU

Megan Wheeler, Ph.D. student, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
Laura Steger, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
Hannah Heavenrich,  School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
Jennifer Learned,  School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University


  • C. Polsky et al. 2014. Assessing the homogenization of urban land management with an application to US residential lawn care. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(12): 4432-4437. doi/10.1073/pnas.1323995111
  • M. K. Steele et al. 2014. Convergent surface water distributions in U.S. cities. Ecosystems, February: 1-13. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-014-9751-y.
  • Groffman, P.M., et al. 2014. Ecological homogenization of urban America. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment12(1): 74–81, doi:10.1890/120374.

NSF Macrosystems Biology, NSF DEB-1065740
NSF LTER/Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research Program, BCS-1026865