Riparian Restoration

Our recent study led by Michelle Stuhlmacher questioned how urban riparian sites with differing design intentions link to environmental outcomes over time: including heat, vegetation, and bird biodiversity.

Site 1. The Rio Salado in Tempe was redeveloped with economic, recreational, and ecological design goals

Intentions: Recreational area that also supports economic activities and ecological functioning


  • Increased surface water from lake and stormwater drains
  • Area was found to be cooler and greener over time
  • Habitat supported more waterbird and warbler species

Site 2. The New River in Peoria experienced a developer-driven urbanization

Intentions: Built up commercial and residential land-use


  • Ephemeral (seasonal) water, drier overall
  • Less vegetation and hotter temperatures
  • Habitat supported urban-dwelling and generalist bird species

Stuhlmacher, M., Andrade, R., Turner II, B. L., Frazier, A., & Li, W. (2020). Environmental Outcomes of Urban Land System Change: Comparing Riparian Design Approaches in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Land Use Policy99, 104615. Link to paper.

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