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Urban EcologyPatterns, Processes, and Applications$
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Jari Niemelä, Jürgen H. Breuste, Thomas Elmqvist, Glenn Guntenspergen, Philip James, and Nancy E. McIntyre

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563562

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563562.001.0001

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Anthropogenic Ecosystems: The Influence of People on Urban Wildlife Populations

Anthropogenic Ecosystems: The Influence of People on Urban Wildlife Populations

Chapter:
(p.116) Chapter 2.5 Anthropogenic Ecosystems: The Influence of People on Urban Wildlife Populations
Source:
Urban Ecology
Author(s):

Clark E. Adams

Kieran J. Lindsey

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563562.003.0014

The primary driving force influencing the entire assemblage of urban wildlife is Homo sapiens. In fact, the overwhelming influence people have on the wildlife found in anthropogenic ecosystems argues for consideration of them as an urban ‘keystone’ species. An ‘urban’ area is defined as having an increased density of human-created structures and people relative to areas surrounding it. Humans have the ability to alter both the abiotic and biotic conditions and the structure and function of ecosystems converting undeveloped land into anthropocentric habitats. Vertebrate species that survive in urban settlements have distinct characteristics. Inventories of fish, amphibian, reptile, and non-human mammal species in cities suggested these species are more similar than different. The built environment — buildings, communication towers, roads, and bridges — are either a detriment, a benefit, or both to the survival of wildlife species. One of the greatest hazards to both humans and wildlife is the witches’ brew of toxic chemicals present in some urban soils, in the air, and in water, and the increasing presence of urban wildlife points to the incredible resiliency of these species. The 1986 Chernobyl, Russia, nuclear plant meltdown site offers a unique opportunity to observe changes in urban vertebrate assemblages once humans are no longer present; the area almost immediately ceases to be an anthropogenic ecosystem.

Keywords:   anthropogenic, Homo sapiens, keystone, urban, wildlife, ecosystem

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