This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Design Ecology of Backyard Flocks: Design Interventions to Improve Biosecurity




Tan, Lindsay

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Forestry and Wildlife Science

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



This research explores the human-animal-environment relationship that plays out on the complex landscape of global urbanization. While urbanization signifies economic progress and improved living standards, it concurrently accentuates disparities and vulnerabilities, particularly evident in the critical domain of food security. Set against the backdrop of escalating urbanization, this study navigates the challenges and opportunities inherent in urban and peri-urban food production. Its core objective revolves around identifying intervention points within the tools routinely used by backyard flock-keepers, addressing a notable gap in existing literature and positioning design interventions as a promising avenue for mitigating the challenges posed by urbanization, emphasizing their pivotal role in fostering a healthier and more harmonious coexistence in urban settings. The study conducted an analysis of transfer occurrences during simulated poultry care routines, revealing several key findings. Transfer incidences were consistently detected on tools, equipment, and PPE ensemble surfaces under blacklight examination. Body map analysis revealed a notable bias towards the right side of participants' bodies, with high transfer frequencies observed on right-handed fingers, thumbs, and the right leg proximal. Notably, transfer occurrences were positively correlated with participant handedness, emphasizing the significance of this factor in fomite transmission. Object maps similarly indicated a prevalence of transfer, particularly on touch points such as trash can lids, egg baskets, and nesting box components. Processual analysis highlighted the variability in donning procedures and identified specific touch points, such as nesting box mechanisms, as sources of contamination during egg collection. Furthermore, the study shed light on potential pathways for contamination through footwear, suggesting the need for dedicated footwear and design interventions to mitigate transfer risks. The study yields valuable insights and actionable recommendations for design interventions and adds depth to the broader conversation on building sustainable, secure, and resilient cities. Acknowledging urbanization's potential to offer solutions, particularly through peri-urban food production, the work underscores the necessity for innovative, cross-disciplinary interventions. Timely and relevant, this research not only adds nuance to ongoing conversations about community resilience, food security, and zoonoses, but also propels the discourse forward, urging a collective reconsideration of the urban landscape's future trajectory.