Publication Date

March 2019

Cities are increasingly making decisions related to sustainability, and information from the field of urban ecology may be useful in informing these decisions. However, the potential utility of this information may not translate into it actually being used. We surveyed municipal sustainability staff through the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program documenting their information needs and information sources, and used these results to identify the frequency with which urban ecologists are publishing studies of potential relevance to practitioners. We also quantified funded awards from the U.S. National Science Foundation in urban ecology that explicitly describe active partnerships with city policy makers. Our results show that urban ecologists are increasingly generating information of potential relevance to city sustainability efforts, with rapid increases in the number of articles published and grants funded on areas identified as key information needs. Our results also suggest that the transmission of information from academic urban ecologists to practitioners occurs mostly through indirect pathways, as municipal sustainability staff reported relying heavily on general web searches and government agency websites to find information. We found evidence of an increasing frequency of active collaborations between urban ecologists and policy makers from NSF grant abstracts. Our findings are consistent with previous findings that traditional models of passive communication to practitioners through academic journals results in a low efficiency of use of this knowledge, but that the potential for urban ecologists to help inform municipal sustainability initiatives through active collaborations with practitioners is great.