The Urban Ecology Research Learning Alliance is the Research Learning Center for the National Capital Region. We sponsored this web version of our booklet, which supports our mission to synthesize and communicate research results, promote research in the parks, and increase research-related educational opportunities. The seven scientific studies and projects summarized in this booklet provide examples of the many natural resource values and challenges in the National Park units of the National Capital Region.


Introduction
The National Capital Region's Center for Urban Ecology, in cooperation with park resource managers and its academic and other partners, is striving to learn more about the natural resources within regional parks and how threats can be better understood and mitigated. The articles within this booklet provide a sample of some of these endeavors. While the focus is on the National Parks of the National Capital Region, the resources and threats extend throughout the mid-Atlantic area...

Impervious Surface
National Park areas sit within a landscape matrix made up not only of forest, grassland, agricultural lands, but also of roadways, buildings, and residential and commercial development. Areas surrounding the Parks range from relatively little development to highly developed cityscapes. The gradual conversion of lands surrounding the National Parks into roadways, buildings, and parking lots has increasingly adverse impacts on water resources, according to the Water Resources Program at the Center for Urban Ecology...

Protection of Rare Plant
The National Capital Region is home to harperella (Ptilimnium nodosum), a federally endangered plant species with only 14 populations known worldwide. Threats to the species and its habitat are severe due to hydrologic alterations caused by landscape use changes, the spread of non-native invasive plant species, and recreational use by more than million people visiting annually...

Genetically Distinct Trout
Big Hunting Creek in Catoctin Mountain Park has played a prominent role in the development of recreational trout fishing in Maryland. The stream has long been popular among fly fishermen, who are attracted by brook (Salvelinus fontinalis), brown (Salmo trutta), and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Maintaining the genetic integrity of native, wild populations is very important in the conservation biology of a species...

Urban Trees
The parks managed by the National Park Service, National Capital Region within the city of Washington, D.C. play a significant role in sustaining the visual and environmental quality of the nationís capital. Besides their environmental contributions, sustaining these trees is important because many trees, such as the American elms (Ulmus americana) of the National Mall and the delicate Japanese cherry trees (Prunus species) that surroundthe Tidal Basin, have cultural significance and are major assets of Washington, D.C...

Wetland Restoration
In 1996, the National Park Service and the Smithsonian Institution began to develop a wetland mitigation and landscape restoration project at Manassas National Battlefield Park. The Park acquired adjacent battlefield land, called the Stuartís Hill tract in , where a private developer had previously destroyed wetlands. The Park lacked funding to restore the construction site...

Protecting Dragonflies and Damselfies
The story of how we came to learn about the impressive diversity and value of our dragonflies and damselflies (the odonates) is one of ecological connections and shared interest in preserving bio-diversity and protecting human health. The National Capital Region manages important wetlands, which is habitat for the odonates. The National Capital Region also serves more than million visitors annually, which accounts for 20% of the total National Park Service annual visitation...

Protection of Subterranean habitat
For animals that live underground and are not easily found or seen, protecting their habitats is especially important and difficult. In and around the nationís capital, urban development over the past 100 years has obliterated many subterranean aquatic habitats by water contamination, fill, pavement, and entombment in pipes or concrete. As a result, development has eliminated or so disturbed many groundwater systems that unknown numbers of interesting and potentially significant species are lost...

Promotiong Science for Parks through Partnerships
Understanding the complex working of urban ecosystems relies on multi-disciplinary approaches. For this reason, the Center for Urban Ecology has an interdisciplinary team of scientists to address park and regional needs. As part of that team, the Urban Ecology Research Learning Alliance actively supports research on urban ecology and communicates research results to diverse audiences...

 

The Center for Urban Ecology (CUE) identifies and responds to the natural resource needs of the National Capital Region (NCR), located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The CUE staff focuses on urban ecology within the matrix of the region's nationally significant natural and cultural resources. Through science, service, and partnerships, CUE assists managers in understanding, protecting, and restoring natural resources for future generations.

With the continued development and population growth throughout the area, natural resources are fragmented within urban and suburban landscapes, and are often highly impacted. CUE has the unique ability to advise, manage, and support projects at both the national and regional level through a professional interdisciplinary team that provides comprehensive science and technical support to park resource managers.

The Center for Urban Ecology's mission, as an interdisciplinary team, is to provide scientific guidance, technical assistance and education for the preservation, conservation and enhancement of park resources within urbanizing landscapes.