Sprawl and Biodiversity

This module focuses on sprawl—unplanned development patterns of auto-dependent dispersed single-use and low-density land—which has become widespread in the United States. The causes of sprawl are diverse, but are based in public policies governing housing, taxation, zoning, transportation, etc. at all government levels. While there is now a growing movement to halt the expansion of sprawl in the U.S., there is no single or easy solution. Students will examine the unanticipated yet wide-ranging
effects of sprawl on all levels of diversity, from species to ecosystem processes, and consider the relationships between sprawl and other threats to biodiversity, including habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change. 

Theme: People and Conservation

Language: English

Region: North America

Keywords: development, planning, policy, role play

Components: 11

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Synthesis: The Context and Causes of Sprawl

Author: B.L. Lawrence

   

This excerpt from Nature in Fragments: the Legacy of Sprawl, a book edited by Elizabeth A. Johnson and Michael W. Klemens and published by Columbia University Press, looks at the public policy underlying sprawl and recent efforts to address the issue.

Synthesis: Impacts of Sprawl on Biodiversity

Author: E.A. Johnson, M.W. Klemens, M. Marek

   

In this synthesis, students will learn about sprawl—unplanned development patterns that have become
the norm in the US and elsewhere over the past 20 years—and its unanticipated yet wide-ranging
effects on biodiversity. Students will examine the effects of sprawl on all levels of diversity, from species
to ecosystem processes, and consider the relationships between sprawl and other threats to
biodiversity, including habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change. 


explore

Recommended Resource: Species and Sprawl: A Road Runs Through It

Source: AMNH Science Bulletins, February 2005

As urban and suburban sprawl continue to spread across the country, road mortality has been found to be a major factor in the decline of turtle populations throughout the northeastern United States. Hoping to inform future development, researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst radio-tracked wood turtles to better quantify their movement patterns and habitat needs.


practice

Exercise: Understanding the Impacts of Sprawl on Biodiversity: A Jigsaw Exercise

5 files

   

This exercise uses a jigsaw model approach, which requires students to process information, communicate, and think collectively to develop an understanding of the broad and interconnected impacts of sprawl on biodiversity.

Exercise: The Context and Causes of Sprawl

Author: B.L. Lawrence, T. Jover

   

In this exercise, students will observe the impact of location and design decisions on the environment,
apply a “Neighborhood Assessment Tool” to evaluate the built environment, and think critically about
how plans and zoning ordinances affect sprawl.

Exercise: Neighborhood Assessment Tool

Author: B.L. Lawrence, T. Jover

   

This tool accompanies the The Context and Causes of Sprawl exercise above. 


teach

Presentation: Impacts of Sprawl on Biodiversity

Author: E.A. Johnson, M.W. Klemens

Presentation: The Context and Causes of Sprawl in the United States

Author: B.L. Lawrence, T. Jover

Teaching Notes: Impacts of Sprawl on Biodiversity

Author: E.A. Johnson, M.W. Klemens

Solutions: Understanding the Impacts of Sprawl on Biodiversity: A Jigsaw Exercise

Solutions: The Context and Causes of Sprawl

Author: B.L. Lawrence, T. Jover, T. Cornelisse


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