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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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Biodiversity and Community Composition in Urban Ecosystems: Coupled Human, Spatial, and Metacommunity Processes

Biodiversity and Community Composition in Urban Ecosystems: Coupled Human, Spatial, and Metacommunity Processes

Chapter:
(p.179) Chapter 3.5 Biodiversity and Community Composition in Urban Ecosystems: Coupled Human, Spatial, and Metacommunity Processes
Source:
Urban Ecology
Author(s):

Christopher M. Swan

Steward T. A. Pickett

Katalin Szlavecz

Paige Warren

K. Tara Willey

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563562.003.0021

Urban ecosystems present ecologists with the unique opportunity to study ecological communities in the context of drastic structural and environmental change unprecedented in pristine environments. The consequences of such change have led to novel modifications of species composition, dominance, behaviour, and dispersal. Inherent to these changes are the complex relationships between human behaviour and decision-making, spatial structure of the landscape, and the natural processes involved in determining local species richness and composition. Furthermore, the scope for feedback between these processes is strong, reinforcing the interdisciplinary nature of the problem of understanding the community ecology of urban ecosystems. A conceptual overview of the problem is presented, and brings to bear an emerging theme in community ecology, the concept of the metacommunity, as an instrument to integrate these processes. In developing this concept, it is contended that human valuation of species and human behaviour at the local scale has the potential to strongly influence species sorting patterns. At larger scales, human modification of spatial features, especially those related to connectance between local communities, mediates dispersal patterns, and distance-decay relationships. By embracing space explicitly in the context of metacommunity theory, the interaction and feedback with human systems can be integrated to understand patterns of species diversity and composition in urban ecosystems.

Keywords:   connectance, dispersal, human decision-making, metacommunity, species diversity

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