Harnessing Ecosystem Services


Primary Investigator

Headshot of Frances Sivacoff

Frances S. Sivakoff, Postdoctoral Researcher

Department of Entomology - College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences


STEAM Collaborators 

Headshot of Mary Gardiner

Mary M. Gardiner, Associate Professor

Department of Entomology - College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences



Headshot of Daniela Miteva

Daniela A. Miteva, Assistant Professor

Departmartment of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics - College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences



Additional Collaborators

Headshot of Mary Rodriguez

Mary T. Rodriguez, Assistant Professor

Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership - College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences



One in six cities globally is a “shrinking city,” having undergone long-term economic and population decline due to geographic shifts in manufacturing, alterations in transportation routes, and suburbanization. The legacy of these changes is an overabundance of infrastructure, which is demolished over time resulting in large tracts of vacant land. While vacant lots impose a financial burden to cities, they likely generate significant ecosystem services like provisioning arthropods for pollination and pest control, cycling nutrients, filtering water and air, and sequestering carbon. Managing vacant lots for ecosystem services represents a long-term investment opportunity to improve the ecological value of these urban landscapes, but to have the buy-in of city officials and community members, these services must be measured and monetized. In the proposed project, we will measure ecosystem services in both vacant lots and in urban farms that rely on ecosystem services for sustainable food production. We will then monetize these services and disseminate our results to city officials and the surrounding communities. The results from this study can be used to promote policy to protect critical urban ecosystem structure and functions especially among low-income households who often face food insecurity and limited means of compensating for lost ecosystem services.