Applying Vegetation Dynamics Theory to the Long-Term Ecological Design and Management of Urban Public Parks: Upper Long Branch Stream Valley, Maryland

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Calls for ecological applications in landscape architecture have increased as the world faces compounding crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and human disconnection with natural systems. Landscape architects are uniquely situated to address these crises as practitioners who engage at multiple scales with ecological systems, placemaking, and land use planning. A sustainability ethic exists within the discipline, but ecological principles and theory are inconsistently applied in built work. Vegetation dynamics theory generalizes the mechanisms of plant community change over time, and presents a useful framework for the planting design, long-term adaptive management, and stewardship of urban parks. The principles of the theory can be interwoven with ecological and aesthetic goals of designed landscapes. This thesis demonstrates how centering vegetation dynamics theory in urban park design can enhance ecological function of urban landscapes, create heightened place attachment through aesthetic and interpretive experience, and guide the long-term management and stewardship of urban ecosystems in the Mid-Atlantic United States.