Recent research on urban biodiversity has addressed the relationship between human diversity and patterns of species richness and composition. Most studies report correlations between species composition and socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of residents. However questions remain about the nature of these correlations and the ways in which they might be driven by human diversity. Researchers in landscape architecture and environmental psychology have used the concept of everyday nature or nearby nature to describe places with 1 km of where people live or work. These are places where people interact with nature, where they are most knowledgeable about nature, and where the have the strongest opinions about how nature should be managed. Looking at the urban biodiversity through a nearby nature lens is a useful way of studying the influence of human diversity. In this presentation I will report on from research in Chicago, IL; Baltimore, MD; and Columbia, MO that seeks to: define and quantify the structure of nearby nature; relate this structure to measures of human diversity; and considers how structure and human diversity influence species composition.
Results from the three cities point to differences in the kinds of nearby nature that urban residents experience and support previous studies about differences related to race / ethnicity, level of education, home ownership, and income. However the settings in which nearby nature occur support a diverse group of species and offer a counter argument to literature about extinction of experience and lack of interest in nature among some groups of urban residents.