Susannah LermanSusannah Lerman

Adjunct Research Professor / Research Ecologist

USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station



Areas of specialization

Urban ecology, wildlife biology, citizen science

Primary Interests

I research how native birds, bees and other wildlife respond to different urban green space management, and the human perceptions and values of urban wildlife and biodiversity. My science then informs strategies and solutions for strengthening stewardship in residential yards and other green spaces in urban and urbanizing landscapes, while simultaneously providing positive interactions between people and nature.

Current Projects

  • Test how lawn management frequency can enhance habitat for pollinators and ecosystem services in residential landscapes. Research website and downloadable lawn signs that promote bee-friendly lawn care can be found here.
  • Explore how wildlife responds to alternative yard management regimes to test whether altering green space managment behaviors can maximize benefits for urban biodiversity while delivering ecosystem services. This research is part of the American Residential Macrosystem project.
  • Develop and integrate habitat relationship models into the urban forest assessment tool i-Tree. The wildlife module provides a rapid assessment of the bird habitat potential in the urban forest, evaluates habitat improvement plans, and provides detailed information of habitat requirements for 10 northeastern birds
  • Assess the population dynamics and stability of backyard birds by studying nest success and annual survival along urban and latitudinal gradients. I partner with citizen scientists to enhance environmental literacy and reconnect people with nearby nature in urban and suburban areas. This research is part of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Neighborhood Nestwatch Network.
  • Document long-term trends of urban wildlife communities in suburban neighborhoods and human perceptions of wildlife. Research is part of the Central Arizona Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) project.

Recent Publications

Lerman, S.B.,V. D’Amico. 2019. Infrequent lawn mowing has no relationship with tick presence in lawn-dominated suburban yards. PLoS ONE 14(4):e0214615.

Lerman, S.B., King, D.I., Arendt, W. 2019. Observations of a Mourning Dove nesting in an active Palmchat nest in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Urban Naturalist 24:1-5

Lerman, S.B.and A.R. Contosta. 2019. Lawn mowing frequency and its effects on biogenic and anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Landscape and Urban Planning 182:114–123.

Warren, P.S.*, S.B. Lerman*, R. Andrade, K. Larson, H. Bateman. 2019. The more things change, the more they stay the same: Species losses detected in Phoenix over a five-year period despite stability in bird-socioeconomic relationships. Ecosphere 10(3):e02624. 10.1002/ecs2.2624
*Co-first authors.

Lerman, S.B.,A.R. Contosta, J. Milam and C. Bang. 2018. To mow or to mow less: Lawn mowing frequency and bee abundance in suburban yards. Biological Conservation 221: 160-174.
**One of two papers highlighted by the Editor-in-Chief and Associate editor of Biological Conservation in a decade-reflection of research that exemplifies the goals promoted by the journal. Primack, R. B., and V. Devictor. 2018. Editorial: Biological Conservation’s goals of advancing science and protecting biodiversity are highlighted by two recent papers. Biological Conservation 221:A1–A2.

Lepczyk, C.A., M.F.J. Aronson, K.L. Evans, M.A. Goddard, S.B. Lerman, J.S. MacIvor. 2017. Biodiversity in the city: fundamental questions for understanding the ecology of urban green spaces for biodiversity conservation. BioScience.67:799-807.

Groffman, P.M., M. Avolio, J. Cavender-Bares, N.D. Bettez, J.M. Grove, S. Hall, S.E. Hobbie, K.L. Larson, S.B. Lerman, D. Locke, J. Heffernan, J.L. Morse, C. Neill, K. Nelson, J. O’Neil-Dunne, D. Pataki, C. Polsky, R.V. Pouyat, R. Roy Chowdhury, M. Steele, T. Trammell. 2017. Ecological homogenization of residential macrosystems. Nature Ecology & Evolution1:s41559-17-191–17.

Aronson, M.F.J., C.A. Lepczyk, K.L. Evans, M.A. Goddard, S.B. Lerman, J.S. MacIvor, C.H. Nilon, and T. Vargo. 2017. Biodiversity in the city: research priorities and knowledge gaps for urban green space planning and management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 15:189-196.doi 10.1002/fee.1480

Goddard, M.A., Ikin, K., andLerman, S.B.2017. Ecological and social factors determining the diversity of birds in residential yards and gardens. Pp. 371-397 in: E. Murgui and M. Hedblom, eds. Ecology and Conservation of Birds in Urban Environments. Springer International Publishing.

Lerman, S.B.and J. Milam. 2016. Bee fauna and floral abundance within lawn-dominated suburban yards in Springfield, MA. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 1-11. doi: 10.1093/aesa/saw043.

Kane, B., P.S. Warren, and S.B. Lerman. 2015. Tree risk assessment and the occurrence of cavity-nesting birds in residential landscapes. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening14: 1137-1146.

Lerman, S.B.and N. F. Sonti. 2015. U.S. Forest Service and partners deliver urban wildlife research in support of conservation and management. Cities and the Environment (CATE): Vol. 8: Iss. 1, Article 2.

Scyphers, S.B. and S.B. Lerman.2014. Residential Landscapes, Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change. Pp. 81-100 in: From Sustainable to Resilient Cities: Global Concerns and Urban Efforts Research in Urban Sociology. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Lerman, S.B., K.H. Nislow, D.J. Nowak, S. DeStefano, D.I. King, and D.T. Jones-Farrand. 2014. Using urban forestry monitoring tools to model urban bird habitat potential. Landscape and Urban Planning 122: 29-40.