Environmental Studies

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Env. Studies Student Presents Research at 2019 Geography Conference

Environmental studies major, Sarah Becker, presents directed research in an organized session examining Trees in the City at the 2019 American Association of Geographers annual meeting in Washington D.C.

On Wednesday, April 3, Sarah Becker presented at the American Association of Geographers in Washington D.C. Her presentation, entitled “Assessing Woody Species in the Philadelphia Urban Forest: Foraging Potential versus Actual Practices,” was part of five Trees in the City sessions focused on urban forests. Sarah’s work spoke specifically to concerns about social values in these urban environments and featured research she has been conducting with Associate Professor Patrick Hurley. Under Dr. Hurley’s mentorship, Sarah’s work examines the alignment of documented foraging practices by residents of the Philadelphia Metropolitan area with the species composition of trees and their abundance in the city.

Sarah analyzed data from a U.S. Forest Service inventory of Philadelphia’s tree population, then drew on survey data of foraging practices by areas individuals collected by Dr. Hurley. Sarah’s abstract explains that the “focus of foraging practices [centers] on propagules from species both present and not in the inventory.” Further, according to Sarah “not only are people in Philadelphia using the woody species of the urban forest, but they are harvesting a variety of plant parts for” food, medicine, and other uses. Sarah’s work builds on the previous research of ENV and People and Urban Forest Research Group alumni Victor Fernandez and Jenna Detweiler. Sarah’ notes that is important to understand the alignment of foraging practices with tree abundance, as a way to help managers think about questions of species selection in tree plantings and other management interventions.

Sarah is an Environmental Studies major with minors in Biology, Statistics, and French.