The importance of natural ecosystem processes is often overlooked in urban areas. Green Infrastructure (GI) features have been constructed in urban areas as elements to capture and treat excess urban runoff while providing a range of ancillary benefits, e.g., ecosystem processes mediated by microorganisms that improve air and water quality, in addition to the associations with plant and tree rhizospheres. The objective of this study was to characterize the bacterial community and diversity in engineered soils (Technosols) of five types of GI in New York City; vegetated swales, right of way bioswales (ROWB; including street-side infiltration systems and enhanced tree pits), and an urban forest. The design of ROWB GI features directly connects with the road to manage street runoff, which can increase the Technosol saturation and exposure to urban contaminants washed from the street and carried into the GI feature. This GI design specifically accommodates dramatic pulses of water that influence the bacterial community composition and diversity through the selective pressure of contaminants or by disturbance. The ROWB had the highest biodiversity, but no significant correlation with levels of soil organic matter and microbially-mediated biogeochemical functions. Another important biogeochemical parameter for soil bacterial communities is pH, which influenced the bacterial community composition, consistent with studies in non-urban soils. Bacterial community composition in GI features showed signs of anthropogenic disturbance, including exposure to animal feces and chemical contaminants, such as petroleum products. Results suggest the overall design and management of GI features with a channeled connection with street runoff, such as ROWB, have a comprehensive effect on soil parameters (particularly organic matter) and the bacterial community. One key consideration for future assessments of GI microbial community would be to determine the source of organic matter and elucidate the relationship between vegetation, Technosol, and bacteria in the designed GI features.
Joyner, Jessica Lee; Kerwin, Jordan; Deeb, Maha; Lozefski, George; Prithiviraj, Bharath; Paitseva, Anna; McLaughin, John; Groffman, Peter M.; Cheng, Zhongqi; and Muth, Theodore R., "Green Infrastructure Design Influences Communities of Urban Soil Bacteria" (2019). CUNY Academic Works.