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Nature Out of Place: Invasive Species, Novel Ecosystems, and Urban Ecology

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Nature in the City Proudly presents

Nature Out of Place: Invasive Species, Novel Ecosystems, and Urban Ecology

Photo –  Fordham University, Kaitlyn Parkins acoustic bat research on a green roof in Manhattan.

Nature Out of Place: Invasive Species, Novel Ecosystems, and Urban Ecology

Brown Bag Lunch and Learn

Thursday October 19 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM

One Texas Center | Room 325

505 Barton Springs Road, Austin Tx 78704

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*Ticketed free surface and garage parking available. Ticket for validation REQUIRED for free parking. No exceptions. 

A scientific approach to evaluating urban nature holds the potential of an objective, neutral attitude towards organisms which flourish in the city. However, urban ecology in America is caught in a struggle between advocates of a crusade to eliminate nonnative organisms, especially “invasive” species, from cities and advocates of a focus on urban ecosystem functionality and resilience. Culturally, this struggle over native vs. non-native urban organisms contrasts sharply with the cosmopolitan human project of a city, where great urban centers thrive on “nonnative” human diversity. Scientifically, ecology and biology are maturing as sciences and, literally, coming to terms with urban ecology and its “novel ecosystems” that do not match retrospective standards for what is native to a place. This lecture will access the proper place of urban nature in the new ecology of the 21st century. 

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The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures will explore the complex relationship between the city and nature in America. Our American narrative of nature celebrates wilderness or “pristine nature” and rural or “pastoral nature” in contrast to the degradation of urban landscapes. However, we are now predominately a country of urbanites who have only recreational contact with wilderness or pastoral nature. To compensate for our urban “nature deficit”, we have incorporated “green space” into our cities - preserves, parks, farms, and gardens - to allow for contact with officially sanctioned approximations of wild and pastoral nature in the urban landscape. Ecologists are called on to mediate and to assess whether it is a real ecosystem, and thereby add another chapter to the narrative entitled “urban ecology” in which science measures ecological cycles and ecosystem function in the city. The 2017 Lunchtime Lectures are an attempt to disentangle this complex story of ecology, culture, and the American City and, perhaps, to give us all a better understanding of urban nature and the role it plays in our lives. 

Power Points for previous lunchtime lectures.

Kevin Anderson Ph.D.

Kevin is a geographer and philosopher researching the nature of, and the nature in, urban wastelands. He studied at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania [BA], Durham University, England, Ohio University [MA] where he taught philosophy and symbolic logic. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin with a dissertation entitled: Marginal Nature: Urban Wastelands and the Geography of Nature. His research interests include sewage treatment, soil ecology, and sustainable agriculture, urban ecology and sustainability, riparian ecology, environmental history, philosophy, and literature. He is a co-founder of the Texas Riparian Association and the Upper Tisza Foundation in northeastern Hungary. He runs the Austin Water-Center for Environmental Research which focuses on soil, sewage recycling, and environmental trace contaminants; rivers, riparian ecology, and alluvial aquifers; cities, biodiversity, and avian ecology.

Brought to you by Austin Water Utility, Center for Environmental Research (CER), The University of Texas, Texas A&M University. Nature in the City - Austin is sponsored by the Community Trees Division, and helps to implement the Imagine Austin and Urban Forest Plans. 

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Location Information
One Texas Center
505 Barton Springs Roads, 3rd Floor Room 325
Austin, TX 78704
Contact Information
Leah Haynie