In urban ecosystems, household decisions contribute to environmental pollution as well as environmental solutions. Although households are known to significantly influence the energy budgets of cities and nations, few studies have moved beyond energy to characterize household cycles of the major elements that contribute most to pollutants.

In the Twin Cities Household Ecosystem Project (TCHEP), we are quantifying the cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus through households along an urban to exurban gradient in the Saint Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota metropolitan area. We are especially interested in how biophysical combined with socio-demographic and psychological factors influence household decisions about activities like transportation, diet, home energy use, and landscape management, all major contributors to household element cycles. Ultimately, we hope that our research will inform individual decision making and policies intended to mitigate local and global pollution arising from human activities in cities.

This work is supported by the Dynamics of Coupled Human and Natural Systems and the Cedar Creek Long Term Ecological Research programs under BCS-0709581, DEB-0620652, and BCS-0908998 of the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Working Together


Forget what your neighbors think—stop dousing your lawn with fertilizer!
The Washington Post - 03/11/2015

New Publications

Dahmus, M.E., and K.C. Nelson. 2014. Nature discourses in the residential yard in Minnesota. (.pdf) Landscape and Urban Planning Special Issue: Actionable Urban Ecology in China and the World 125:183-187.