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definition - urban ecology

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Urban ecology


Urban ecology is a subfield of ecology which deals with the interaction between organisms in an urban or urbanized community, and their interaction with that community. Urban ecologists study the trees, rivers, wildlife and open spaces found in cities to understand the extent of those resources and the way they are affected by pollution, overdevelopment and other pressures.[1] Urban ecology is most concerned with the interaction of human beings and the environment with regard to ecosystem services in the urban setting. Analysis of urban settings in the context of ecosystem ecology (looking at the cycling of matter and the flow of energy through the ecosystem) may ultimately help us to design healthier, better managed communities, by understanding what threats the urban environment brings to humans. There is an emphasis on planning communities with an ecological design, by using alternative building materials and methods. This is in order to promote a healthy and biodiverse urban ecosystem.



By 2030 it is estimated that 60% of the global population will live in a metropolitan setting.[2] When people become educated and engaged in ecological activities, be it the study of local birds, testing the quality of area water sources, cleaning up vacant land to create parks and gardens, or planting and caring for street trees, positive changes occur for both the people and the environment. For example, urban ecology transformations such as street tree projects increase social connections among urban residents which are the building block for public safety.[3] The ability to enjoy, feel safe, and trust others in your community, is increased in areas where urban ecological tasks are performed, leading to better quality of life.

Interactions between non-living factors, such as sunlight and water, and biological factors, such as plants and microbes, take place in all environments including cities. Concentrating humans and the resources they consume in metropolitan areas alters such things as soil drainage, water flow, and light availability. For example, sidewalks and rooftops can change an area's hydrology by increasing storm water runoff and can contribute to higher urban temperatures by storing heat energy and acting as an artificial heat sink. There are many actions that can help reduce these problems in urban communities. Tree planting helps limit the total surface area of concrete in communities, allowing for groundwater recharge, reducing overall temperature, and helping purify air. Activities such as community gardens or home gardening in urban communities are encouraged by urban ecologists. It saves community members money, and limits demand from outside inputs into the city. Designing Green Buildings allows for less energy needed to operate commercial, industrial, or residential communities. Green buildings are designed with alternative energy sources like Solar Power or Biogas. Other examples of a green design would be increased insulation, green roofs, water collection systems, composting and recycling programs, and overall efficiency.

Urban communities can support a rich and diverse ecosystem. Biodiversity is increased with the availability of natural resources to support growth. So you can support a richer biodiversity by encouraging ecological activities in communities. Depending on the location of that area, the types of organisms in that community will vary greatly. Attempting to understand the factors that make some species successful in urban environments while others perish, is a common topic of research.

Urban ecology does not necessarily make value judgments about whether urban environments are 'good' or 'bad'. Rather, urban ecology allows one to see what is happening in a community and, assist in developing ways to reach the goals that one would like to see in their community.

To apply the Urban Ecology, focusing on new housing schemes is beneficial to protect ecosystems.[citation needed]

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