Despite growing interest in urban resilience, remarkably little is known about vegetation dynamics in the aftermath of disasters. In this study, we examined the composition and structure of plant communities across New Orleans (Louisiana, USA) following catastrophic flooding triggered by levee failures during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Focusing on eight neighborhoods that span a range of demographic and topographical conditions, we assessed whether plant communities in post-Katrina New Orleans reflect flooding disturbance and post-disaster landscape management policies. We then contextualized vegetation patterns and associated ecosystem services and disservices with census-based demographic trends and in-depth interviews to draw inferences about the drivers and outcomes of urban land abandonment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We found that areas subject to the greatest flooding disturbance exhibit the highest rates of vegetation response. Disturbance intensity and elevation, however, are relatively weak drivers of vegetation differences among the studied neighborhoods. Rather, we found that household income, racial demographics, and land abandonment are important drivers of vegetation community composition and structure across the city. Our findings indicate that resettlement and landscape management policies can mediate post-flooding ecological outcomes and demonstrate that unmanaged, emergent vegetation on abandoned lands can be an environmental justice concern in underserved and historically marginalized communities.
Research news | 2020-11-24
While hurdles remain, the region can build on the shared history of collaboration to tackle food system challenges together, new insight papers show
Research news | 2020-11-19
Stephan Barthel, Oonsie Biggs, Örjan Bodin, Thomas Elmqvist, Carl Folke, Per Olsson, Garry Peterson and Johan Rockström on exclusive list of world’s most influential researchers
Research news | 2020-11-18
Four ways to understand the complexity of global environmental change sufficiently well to take policy action
Research news | 2020-11-16
On the island of Stora Karlsö, the steel built lab gives researchers access to observe the largest seabird colony in the Baltic Sea
Research news | 2020-11-13
The clothing industry is dominated by a clutch of powerful companies, but interest groups around them are crucial in efforts to make it more sustainable
Research news | 2020-11-12
The pandemic is hitting the seafood industry hard. How can past crises help it survive this one?