An international scientific seminar “IoT technologies for ecosystem monitoring: towards a new era in urban ecology”, organized by Smart Urban Nature Research Center of Agrarian and Technological Institute of RUDN University will be held on May 11, 2022.
SUN Researchers have found that transport pollution increases the number of microorganisms potentially dangerous to humans on plant leaves
Scientists from the Smart Urban Nature laboratory, in collaboration with colleagues from the Netherlands and Italy, have shown that microbial communities living on the surface of leaves are sensitive to transport pollution. With the approach to highways, the activity of microorganisms increases, their species diversity decreases, and the proportion of conditionally pathogenic forms increases. These changes are associated with an increased concentration of pollutants (mainly Zinc) and microclimatic conditions near the roads: low humidity, high temperature and ultraviolet radiation. It is important to note that the study of plant microorganisms will help assess the ecological state of nature in the city and their possible impact on human health. Article published in Plants (Q1) journal. The research was partly supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and Russian Science Foundation (RSF).
On February 8, 2022, the Museum of Contemporary Arts named after S.P. Diaghilev presented an exhibition accompanied by an interview film about the interdisciplinary science-art project “To be the wind for the tree” by Natalya Fedorova, a media artist and lecturer at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The project is inspired by the Herbarium of the Botanical Garden of St. Petersburg State University and was created in external partnership with the Smart Urban Nature laboratory of RUDN University, the laboratories of the Art & Science program of ITMO University and the Forestry Engineering Academy.
In January 2022, the first experimental international winter school for young scientists “Urban Climate and Air Quality Winter School (UCAWS-2022)” was successfully held at the Khibiny educational and scientific base of Moscow State University in Murmansk region. The school was designed for senior students, masters, graduate students and young scientists under 40 who are interested in the problems of urban climatology, urban air quality, urban studies, urban ecology in relation to the cities of the Eastern and Western Arctic. This topic is extremely promising in recent decades, especially in the light of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023.
The last month of 2021 was so busy that we did not have enough time to sum up the results of the whole year. Now we had a rest and, looking back, we would like to share some of our achievements.
The year 2021 gave us new results and new colleagues, allowed us to implement interesting projects and become part of the projects of our partners. Despite the continuing restrictions on travel to other countries, we do not stop our international cooperation and contacts, but on the contrary we multiply and strengthen them.
SUN Lab presented the results of the third year of the project “Smart technologies to monitor, model and evaluate ecosystem services provided by urban green infrastructure and soils to support decision making in sustainable city development under global changes”, supported by a Russian Science Foundation (RSF).
Research in the third year of the project was focused on 3 main objectives:
- monitoring of ecosystem services of urban green infrastructure based on the Smart Urban Nature network;
- interpretation of monitoring data for ecosystem services for various target groups and practical tasks;
- application of the results of monitoring and modeling ecosystem services to support decision-making in the field of sustainable development of the urban environment.
SUN lab researcher Mikhail Varentsov in collaboration with Russian and German colleagues explained the patterns of temperature rise in megacities. Scientists from RUDN University, Moscow State University, Moscow Center for Fundamental and Applied Mathematics with colleagues from Ruhr University in Bochum (Germany), Freiburg University (Germany) and Berlin Technical University (Germany) found that not only the alternation of local climatic zones, as previously thought, but also the heterogeneity of the urban environment on a scale of several kilometres make a significant contribution to the formation of an urban heat island on the scale of the entire city. This can be compared to the synergy effect, when the result of the interaction of several factors is more powerful than the sum of the effects caused by the same factors separately.
Ongoing urbanization has led to a significant increase in the number of pets and has altered the relationships between pets and owners from primarily utilitarian to cultural. Today existing classifications of ecosystem services and nature’s contributions to people explicitly consider only the ES provided by livestock and wild animals. Despite this, scientists from Smart Urban Nature laboratory tried to give it a fresh view and attempted to translate perceived benefits and costs from owning dogs or cats in a megapolis into ecosystem services and disservices frameworks considering such pets as natural biotic elements of a megapolis and thus, essential parts of urban ecosystems.
The laboratory Smart Urban Nature worked as a consultant to the “Yauza project” bureau, which developed a project for the spatial development of the city of Cherepovets striving for a reasonable balance between the purpose of the object, the needs of people and the environment. Thus, the main goal in developing the concept was to bring nature to the city to create a comfortable living environment. With the proximity of major roads, the impact of the urban heat island, and the increasing number of extreme weather events associated with climate change, the regulatory functions of green infrastructure seem to be the most significant to assess and implement in the city development.
The Soil Basis of Smart and Sustainable Cities: How Scientists from SUN Lab expand knowledge about the functions of urban soils
It is a well-known fact that soil is the main component of a terrestrial ecosystem, the balanced functioning of which largely depends on the soil microbiome. Today, in the urban environment, there is an unprecedented anthropogenic impact on the soil, its microbiome and the ecosystem as a whole, which can lead to disruption of their functioning. Researchers from all countries are trying to develop knowledge about the peculiarities of the functioning of the soil microbiome in urban conditions, in particular by studying its various microbial indicators. However, there is no answer to the question of which microbial indicators can most informatively reflect the functioning of urban soils and be useful in planning and improving urban areas.