Cemetery Biodiversity Study

Hello! Welcome to the information page for the Cemetery Biodiversity Study lead by Heather Kostick at the Ward Lab at Drexel University. Heather can be reached at hlk35@drexel.edu for any questions related to this research. Support the research here.

Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA. Photo Credit: Heather Kostick, May 2021.

Project Summary:

This research is focused on the biodiversity of urban green spaces with a particular focus on cemeteries in Philadelphia. I will be evaluating the presence of birds, plants, and invertebrates (insects & mollusks) in these spaces. This will be the first effort to systematically study biodiversity in cemeteries in Philadelphia. Additionally as part of this research, there are two other related components. The first is looking at how cemetery management style and the way the cemetery was founded may correlate or affect current biodiversity. The second will be human-use surveys to see how that may correlate with biodiversity. Humans are often using urban cemeteries as green spaces, and it’s not well-understood how human use may impact biodiversity of these spaces.

Cemeteries are understudied green spaces in Philadelphia which provide much-needed nature and land connections to community members in addition to being a space of mourning and grief. My goal is not only collect data and analyze it for the purpose of my doctoral dissertation, but to provide land/cemetery managers with information that may be useful in land and natural resource management; and any educational or outreach programming.

This work is supported by Dane Ward (Heather’s research advisor) and Drexel University for the purposes of fulfilling doctoral dissertation research requirements. Funding for the biodiversity surveys provided by the Malacological Society of London (MSL) and the William L. McLean III Fellowship.

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