assessing indicator species to measure biodiversity in los angeles

Practicum Project | 2021

Assessing indicator species to measure biodiversity in Los Angeles

At first glance, the city of Los Angeles appears to be a bustling metropolis of endless traffic and sprawling suburbs. But among all of the concrete lies one the richest biodiversity hotspots in the United States. Today, urban development and climate change present a direct, immediate threat to species and habitats in Los Angeles.

It is critical that we assess and provide protection to our local wildlife. Our team will be partnering with the LA Sanitation and Environment department (LASAN) to create an index to effectively measure both the ecological health and the biodiversity of the Los Angeles area. This LA City Biodiversity Index will incorporate data from an array of expert ecologists, citizen science and statistical models to compile benchmark measurements for biodiversity in Los Angeles. For this study, our team will be assessing key indicator species for the Los Angeles area. Indicator species reflect the quality of the ecosystems they reside in and are often utilized to measure environmental health. Using citizen data, we will be able to thoroughly document and describe the impact of specific indicator species in the Los Angeles urban environment. We will determine the biological diversity of LA ecosystems remotely using statistical-predictive models, eliminating the need to measure each individual tree and animal. Biodiversity is disappearing at an alarming rate, and it is our responsibility to make sure that our city’s biodiversity is accurately measured and preserved. Together with LASAN, we prevent biodiversity loss and create positive environmental change for the city of Los Angeles.

Client: LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN)

Advisor: Dr. Ariel Levi Simons

Student Team: Stevie Caldwell, Michelle Fu, Jose Gallegos, Michael Gatheru, Laura Riccardelli, Valeria Viera