Thank you to everyone who has spoken with us about their experiences! Our findings are now published in the Journal of Urban Ecology.
Research taking place on private property is essential to the future of urban ecology. However, much of what we know about urban ecosystems is based on remotely sensed data (e.g. , , ), or from public parks (e.g. ). When researchers have looked at private property on the ground, they often limit their study to publicly view-able front yards on single family residential property (e.g. ), despite research showing that front and back yards differ . Other types of private property, including multi-family residential, commercial, and industrial, lack representation in the literature.
Performing more urban ecology research on private property is the best way to address this gap in our knowledge. To encourage more research in this sphere, we provide answers to common questions to assist ecologists new to working on urban private property.
We asked: ‘What lessons have urban ecologists learned from designing their research and completing their fieldwork that are relevant to researchers new to private property?’ We present 10 common methodological and practical challenges faced by urban ecologists and their solutions.
The compiled advice addresses all stages of research, including research design, sample design, gaining access to study sites, collecting data on study sites, and sharing results. Ecologists reported that their research and sampling design were shaped by the need to work with property owners, found communicating honestly and respectfully with property owners for the duration of the research influenced success, and emphasized practicing good field safety and preparing for both routine and stressful in-person encounters.
We hope that our suggestions will help guide the next generation of urban ecologists to take up this challenge.