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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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Global Effects of Urbanization on Ecosystem Services

Global Effects of Urbanization on Ecosystem Services

Chapter:
(p.193) Chapter 4.1 Global Effects of Urbanization on Ecosystem Services
Source:
Urban Ecology
Author(s):

Robert McDonald

Peter Marcotullio

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563562.003.0024

This chapter attempts to answer a simple question often posed: is global urbanisation good or bad for the environment? Starting from a broad overview of how cities affect the environment, this chapter’s discussion focuses on the past few decades and the predictions of what the next decades may bring. The bulk of the chapter is taken up with specific examples of urbanisation’s effect on provisioning, regulatory, and supporting services. The chapter argues that it is difficult to provide a straightforward answer to the chapter’s central question because urbanisation is so completely bound up with other development processes that it is difficult to separate. There is evidence that the influence of dense settlement patterns depends upon the ecosystem service, scale of impact, and the development level of a city. On the one hand there are benefits of dense settlement to the provisioning and distribution of freshwater services, for example. On the other hand, it seems that the location of cities has negatively impacted biodiversity at both the local level (where urbanisation accompanies homogenization and general loss of species richness) and the regional level. The analysis suggests the need for a concerted effort to identify and analyse the specific costs and benefits of dense settlement organisation; both socially and ecologically.

Keywords:   urbanisation, ecosystem services, freshwater, biodiversity, global

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