Scientists & Staff
- Gardening for Wildlife Enhances Bird Diversity Beyond Your Own Back YardOctober 25, 2021
- First Midwest Urban Long-term Ecological Research Site Established in Twin-CitiesMarch 16, 2021
- Think the Tick Threat Grows with the Grass? Not NecessarilyApril 3, 2019
- Mowing the Lawn Less Often Improves Bee HabitatMarch 13, 2018
Current ResearchEffectiveness of Pollinator Habitat
As part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Long-Term Ecological Research (MSP LTER) project, research will test the effectiveness of the new state-wide "Bee Lawn" program for transforming MSP into a refuge for pollinators. Research aims to provide detailed information on optimal soil properties, plant mixes, lawn size, and locations for supporting pollinators. Research builds on previous work in Springfield, MA that tested how lawn mowing frequency can enhance habitat for pollinators and ecosystem services in residential landscapes. See research website for downloadable lawn signs that promote bee-friendly lawn care.
Population Dynamics of Backyard Birds
Understanding the demographic responses to backyard bird populations provides a stronger assessment of relationships birds have with urban habitats. Research strategies include partnering with the public to co-produce science, offer opportunities for the public to participate in research. Research investigates annual survival, fecundity, response to predation risk, and aims to understand barriers to participating in citizen science.
Wildlife Habitat Models and Decision Support Tools
Rapid habitat assessment tools can increase our capacity to assess habitat potential within the urban forest, evaluate existing habitat improvement plans, and can provide detailed information of habitat requirements.Habitat models are applied to i-Tree urban forest datasets to calculate the overall habitat suitability for a city or a delineated i-Tree project, and the habitat suitability for different types of land-use. The tool enables researchers and managers to create and quantify targeted assessments, detailed predictions and visual components that can guide land management decisions across the northeast US.
Urban Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Residential Landscapes
Environmental and social factors in residential landscapes shape urban biodiversity and human interactions with nature. Research documents long-term trends of urban wildlife communities and human perceptions of wildlife throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area as part of the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) project, and how residential yard management influences biodiversity and ecosystem processes across the United States as part of the American Residential Macrosystems project. Research aims to inform urban green space management and highlights opportunities to strengthen shared stewardship.
Bees, Bison and Birds: Wildlife Management in National Forests and Grasslands
With the increased pace and scale of active forest and grassland management, identifying opportunities to provide and enhance wildlife habitat becomes key. Log landings, resulting after timber harvest, have the potential for providing ephemeral pollinator habitat. Research as part of the Pollinator Habitat in Log Landings (PHiLL) project investigates different soil amendments, floral resources and growing condition, and how they affect bee communities. The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie introduced bison in 2015. Applied research addresses whether and how bison grazing improves the diversity of native vegetation and whether restored prairies provide suitable habitat for grassland birds.
Research InterestsI translate the application of scientific information into management tools and integrate a citizen science approach. My ultimate goal is to improve the sustainability of urban and human-dominated landscapes for birds, bees and other wildlife, and advancing human well-being through strengthening connections between people and nearby nature. I seek opportunities to explain scientific findings to varying audiences while trying to facilitate connections between the publics' personal lives and their local ecosystem. Much of my research emphasis is on private lands, which provide opportunities for the public to participate in science, conservation, and shared stewardship. My research program also aims to broaden participation in STEM, addresses environmental injustices, and I proudly mentor a diverse and exceptional group of young and early career scholars.
Why This Research is ImportantMost people see the urban and suburban landscape as a concrete jungle, devoid of wildlife, but I see potential wildlife habitat that could reverse the loss of biodiversity in urban areas while simultaneously providing positive interactions between people and nature. Given that by 2050 more than 80% of the world population will live in urban and suburban areas, this view becomes an essential tenet in the field of applied ecology, conservation biology and wildlife management. At the heart of my research, I aim to make my work relevant to the end users including environmental practitioners, landscape planners, urban foresters and the public, to more effectively implement change in policy and human behaviors that promote biodiversity.
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ph.D. Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, 2011
- Antioch University New England, M.S. Conservation Biology, 2005
- University of Delaware, B.S. American History, 1994
- Citizen Science Association (2014 - Current)
- The Wildlife Society (2011 - Current)
- Ecological Society of America (2005 - Current)
- American Ornithological Society (2002 - Current)
Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Awards & Recognition
- Elected Member, American Ornithological Society, 2017
- National Science Foundation SEES Fellowship, 2012
- Switzer Environmental Fellowship, 2010
Featured Publications & Products
- Lerman, Susannah B.; Contosta, Alexandra R.; Milam, Joan; Bang, Christofer. 2018. To mow or to mow less: Lawn mowing frequency affects bee abundance and diversity in suburban yards. Biological Conservation
- Lerman, Susannah B.; Narango, Desirée L.; Avolio, Meghan L.; Bratt, Anika R.; Engebretson, Jesse M.; Groffman, Peter M.; Hall, Sharon J.; Heffernan, James B.; Hobbie, Sarah E.; Larson, Kelli L.; Locke, Dexter H.; Neill, Christopher ; Nelson, Kristen C.; Padullés Cubino, Josep ; Trammell, Tara L. E. 2021. Residential yard management and landscape cover affect urban bird community diversity across the continental USA. Ecological Applications
- Lerman, Susannah B.; Pejchar, Liba ; Benedict, Lauryn ; Covino, Kristen M.; Dickinson, Janis L.; Fantle-Lepczyk, Jean E.; Rodewald, Amanda D.; Vleck, Carol. 2021. Juggling parenthood and ornithology: A full lifecycle approach to supporting mothers through the American Ornithological Society. Ornithological Applications
- Warren, Paige S.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Andrade, Riley ; Larson, Kelli L.; Bateman, Heather L. 2019. The more things change: species losses detected in Phoenix despite stability in bird-socioeconomic relationships. Ecosphere
- Groffman, Peter M.; Avolio, Meghan; Cavender-Bares, Jeannine; Bettez, Neil D.; Grove, J. Morgan; Hall, Sharon J.; Hobbie, Sarah E.; Larson, Kelli L.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Locke, Dexter H.; Heffernan, James B.; Morse, Jennifer L.; Neill, Christopher; Nelson, Kristen C.; O'Neil-Dunne, Jarlath; Pataki, Diane E.; Polsky, Colin; Chowdhury, Rinku Roy; Trammell, Tara L. E. 2017. Ecological homogenization of residential macrosystems. Nature Ecology & Evolution
- Aronson, Myla F.J.; Lepczyk, Christopher A.; Evans, Karl L.; Goddard, Mark A.; Lerman, Susannah B.; MacIvor, J. Scott; Nilon, Charles H.; Vargo, Timothy. 2017. Biodiversity in the city: key challenges for urban green space management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
- Lerman, Susannah B.; Milam, J. 2016. Bee fauna and floral abundance within lawn-dominated suburban yards in Springfield, MA. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 11 p. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aesa/saw043.
- Lerman, Susannah B.; Nislow, Keith H.; Nowak, David J.; DeStefano, Stephen; King, David I.; Jones-Farrand, D. Todd. 2014. Using urban forest assessment tools to model bird habitat potential. Landscape and Urban Planning. 122: 29-40.
Publications & Products
- Grade, Aaron M.; Warren, Paige S.; Lerman, Susannah B. 2022. Managing yards for mammals: Mammal species richness peaks in the suburbs. Landscape and Urban Planning
- Larson, Kelli L.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Nelson, Kristen C.; Narango, Desiree L.; Wheeler, Megan M.; Groffman, Peter M.; Hall, Sharon J.; Grove, J. Morgan. 2022. Examining the potential to expand wildlife-supporting residential yards and gardens. Landscape and Urban Planning
- Andrade, Riley ; Franklin, Janet ; Larson, Kelli L.; Swan, Christopher M.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Bateman, Heather L.; Warren, Paige S.; York, Abigail. 2021. Predicting the assembly of novel communities in urban ecosystems. Landscape Ecology
- Andrade, Riley ; Hondula, David M.; Larson, Kelli L.; Lerman, Susannah B. 2021. Landscaping preferences influence neighborhood satisfaction and yard management decisions. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening
- Brown, Jeffrey A.; Larson, Kelli L.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Cocroft, Alexandreana ; Hall, Sharon J. 2021. Resident Perceptions of Mosquito Problems Are More Influenced by Landscape Factors than Mosquito Abundance. Sustainability
- Engebretson, Jesse M.; Nelson, Kristen C.; Larson, Kelli L.; Andrade, Riley ; Wheeler, Megan M.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Locke, Dexter H.; Trammell, Tara L. E.; Groffman, Peter M. 2021. Ambiguity and clarity in residential yard ordinances across metropolitan areas in the United States. Journal of Urban Affairs
- Goddard, Mark A.; Davies, Zoe G.; Guenat, Solène ; Ferguson, Mark J.; Fisher, Jessica C.; Akanni, Adeniran ; Ahjokoski, Teija ; Anderson, Pippin M. L.; Angeoletto, Fabio ; Antoniou, Constantinos ; Bates, Adam J.; Barkwith, Andrew ; Berland, Adam ; Bouch, Christopher J.; Rega-Brodsky, Christine C.; Byrne, Loren B.; Cameron, David ; Canavan, Rory ; Chapman, Tim ; Connop, Stuart ; Crossland, Steve ; Dade, Marie C.; Dawson, David A.; Dobbs, Cynnamon ; Downs, Colleen T.; Ellis, Erle C.; Escobedo, Francisco J.; Gobster, Paul ; Gulsrud, Natalie Marie; Guneralp, Burak ; Hahs, Amy K.; Hale, James D.; Hassall, Christopher ; Hedblom, Marcus ; Hochuli, Dieter F.; Inkinen, Tommi ; Ioja, Ioan-Cristian ; Kendal, Dave ; Knowland, Tom ; Kowarik, Ingo ; Langdale, Simon J.; Lerman, Susannah B.; MacGregor-Fors, Ian ; Manning, Peter ; Massini, Peter ; McLean, Stacey ; Mkwambisi, David D.; Ossola, Alessandro ; Luque, Gabriel Pérez; Pérez-Urrestarazu, Luis ; Perini, Katia ; Perry, Gad ; Pett, Tristan J.; Plummer, Kate E.; Radji, Raoufou A.; Roll, Uri ; Potts, Simon G.; Rumble, Heather ; Sadler, Jon P.; de Saille, Stevienna ; Sautter, Sebastian ; Scott, Catherine E.; Shwartz, Assaf ; Smith, Tracy ; Snep, Robbert P. H.; Soulsbury, Carl D.; Stanley, Margaret C.; Van de Voorde, Tim ; Venn, Stephen J.; Warren, Philip H.; Washbourne, Carla-Leanne ; Whitling, Mark ; Williams, Nicholas S. G.; Yang, Jun ; Yeshitela, Kumelachew ; Yocom, Ken P.; Dallimer, Martin. 2021. A global horizon scan of the future impacts of robotics and autonomous systems on urban ecosystems. Nature Ecology & Evolution
- Grade, Aaron M.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Warren, Paige S. 2021. Perilous choices: landscapes of fear for adult birds reduces nestling condition across an urban gradient. Ecosphere
- Larson, Kelli L.; Fleeger, Melissa ; Lerman, Susannah B.; Wheeler, Megan M.; Andrade, Riley ; Brown, Jeffrey A.; Hall, Sharon J.; Narango, Desiree L. 2021. Who is abuzz about bees? Explaining residents' attitudes in Phoenix, Arizona. Urban Ecosystems
- Lerman, Susannah ; D'Amico, Vince ; Rodbell, Phillip. 2021. What are the birds and bees telling us?. City Trees. July/August: 34-37.
- Lerman, Susannah B.; Narango, Desiree L.; Andrade, Riley ; Warren, Paige S.; Grade, Aaron M.; Straley, Katherine. 2021. Wildlife in the city: human drivers and human consequences. In: Barbosa, Pedro, ed. Urban ecology: its nature and challenges. Boston, MA: CABI Publishing: 37-66.
- Saunders, Sarah ; Wu, Joanna ; Gow, Elizabeth ; Adams, Evan ; Bateman, Brooke ; Bayard, Trina ; Beilke, Stephanie ; Dayer, Ashley ; Fournier, Auriel ; Fox, Kara ; Heglund, Patricia ; Lerman, Susannah ; Michel, Nicole ; Paxton, Eben ; Şekercioğlu, Çağan ; Smith, Melanie ; Thogmartin, Wayne ; Woodrey, Mark ; van Riper, Charles. 2021. Bridging the research-implementation gap in avian conservation with translational ecology. Ornithological Applications
- Brown, Jeffrey A.; Larson, Kelli L.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Childers, Daniel L.; Andrade, Riley ; Bateman, Heather L.; Hall, Sharon J.; Warren, Paige S.; York, Abigail M. 2020. Influences of Environmental and Social Factors on Perceived Bio-Cultural Services and Disservices. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
- Contosta, Alexandra R.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Xiao, Jingfeng ; Varner, Ruth K. 2020. Biogeochemical and socioeconomic drivers of above- and below-ground carbon stocks in urban residential yards of a small city. Landscape and Urban Planning
- Lerman, Susannah B.; DeLuca, William V. 2020. Landscape and yard-scale characteristics drive house sparrow (Passer domesticus) nest site selection in the northeastern USA. Urban Naturalist. 36: 1-11.
- Lerman, Susannah B. 2020. Less mowing, more buzzing: 'lazy lawn mowers' create a buzz for bee conservation. The Wildlife Professional. 14(3): 28-31.
- Padullés Cubino, Josep ; Cavender-Bares, Jeannine ; Groffman, Peter M.; Avolio, Meghan L.; Bratt, Anika R.; Hall, Sharon J.; Larson, Kelli L.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Narango, Desiree L.; Neill, Christopher ; Trammell, Tara L.E.; Wheeler, Megan M.; Hobbie, Sarah E. 2020. Taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional composition and homogenization of residential yard vegetation with contrasting management. Landscape and Urban Planning
- Jahn, Alex E.; Lerman, Susannah B.; Phillips, Laura M.; Ryder, Thomas B.; Williams, Emily J. 2019. First tracking of individual American Robins (Turdus migratorius) across seasons. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology
- Lerman, Susannah B.; Contosta, Alexandra R. 2019. Lawn mowing frequency and its effects on biogenic and anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Landscape and Urban Planning
- Lerman, Susannah B.; D'Amico, Vincent. 2019. Lawn mowing frequency in suburban areas has no detectable effect on Borrelia spp. vector Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae). PLOS ONE
- Lerman, Susannah B.; King, David I; Arendt, Wayne ; Paulina María M., ; Paulino, Luis R. 2019. Mourning dove nest on a Palmchat colony in urban Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Urban Naturalist. 24: 1-5.
- Goddard, Mark A.; Ikin, Karen ; Lerman, Susannah B. 2017. Ecological and Social Factors Determining the Diversity of Birds in Residential Yards and Gardens. In: Murgui, Enrique; Hedblom, Marcus, eds. Ecology and Conservation of Birds in Urban Environments. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG: 371-397.
- Lepczyk, Christopher A.; Aronson, Myla F. J.; Evans, Karl L.; Goddard, Mark A.; Lerman, Susannah B.; MacIvor, J. Scott. 2017. Biodiversity in the City: Fundamental Questions for Understanding the Ecology of Urban Green Spaces for Biodiversity Conservation. BioScience
- Kane, Brian; Warren, Paige S.; Lerman, Susannah B. 2015. A broad scale analysis of tree risk, mitigation and potential habitat for cavity-nesting birds. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 14(4): 1137-1146.
- Lerman, Susannah B.; Sonti, Nancy F. 2015. U.S. Forest Service and partners deliver urban wildlife research in support of conservation and management. Cities and the Environment. 8(1): article 2. (3 p.).
Strohbach, M., S.B. Lerman and P.S. Warren. 2013. Are small urban greening areas enhancing bird diversity? Insights from community-driven greening projects from Boston. Landscape and Urban Planning 114: 69-79.
Lerman, S.B., P.S. Warren, H. Gan, and E. Shochat. 2012. Linking foraging decisions to residential yard composition. PLoS ONE 7(8): e43497. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043497.
Lerman, S.B., V.K. Turner, and C. Bang. 2012. Homeowners Associations as a vehicle for promoting urban biodiversity: A case study from Phoenix, AZ. Ecology and Society 17(4): 45.
Warren, P.S., R. Ryan, S.B Lerman, K. Tooke. 2011. Social and institutional factors associated with land use and forest conservation along two urban gradients in Massachusetts. Landscape and Urban Planning 102: 82-92.
Lerman, S.B. and P.S. Warren. 2011. The conservation value of residential landscapes: Exploring the links between birds and people. Ecological Applications 21: 1327-1339.
Shochat, E., S.B. Lerman, J.M Anderies, P.S. Warren, S.H. Faeth, and C.H. Nilon. 2010. Invasion, competition, and biodiversity loss in urban ecosystems. BioScience 60: 199-208.
Warren, P.S., S. Harlan, C. Boone, S.B. Lerman, E. Shochat, and A.P. Kinzig. 2010. Urban Ecology and Social Organization. Pp. 172-201 in: K. Gaston, editor. Urban Ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Shochat, E., S.B. Lerman and E. Fernandez-Juricic. 2010. Birds in urban ecosystems: Population dynamics, community structure, biodiversity and conservation. Pp. 75-86 in: J.A. Aitkenhead Peterson and A. Volder, eds. Urban Ecosystem Ecology. Agronomy Monograph 55, Madison, WI.
Warren, P.S., S.B. Lerman and N.D. Charney. 2008. Plants of a feather: Spatial autocorrelation of gardening practices in suburban neighborhoods. Biological Conservation 141: 3-4.
Atwood, J.L. and S.B. Lerman. 2007. Vocal variations in coastal Cactus Wrens: should coastal California populations be protected under the U. S. Endangered Species Act? Western Birds 38: 29-46.
Atwood, J.L. and S.B. Lerman. 2006. Family Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers). Pp. 350-377 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., & Christie, D.A. eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 11. Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Shochat, E., S.B. Lerman, M. Katti, and D. Lewis. 2004. Linking optimal foraging behavior to bird community structure in an urban-desert landscape: field experiments with artificial food patches. American Naturalist 164: 232-243.