, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 38–43 | Cite as

Moving Towards a New Urban Systems Science

  • Peter M. GroffmanEmail author
  • Mary L. Cadenasso
  • Jeannine Cavender-Bares
  • Daniel L. Childers
  • Nancy B. Grimm
  • J. Morgan Grove
  • Sarah E. Hobbie
  • Lucy R. Hutyra
  • G. Darrel Jenerette
  • Timon McPhearson
  • Diane E. Pataki
  • Steward T. A. Pickett
  • Richard V. Pouyat
  • Emma Rosi-Marshall
  • Benjamin L. Ruddell
20th Anniversary Paper


Research on urban ecosystems rapidly expanded in the 1990s and is now a central topic in ecosystem science. In this paper, we argue that there are two critical challenges for ecosystem science that are rooted in urban ecosystems: (1) predicting or explaining the assembly and function of novel communities and ecosystems under altered environmental conditions and (2) refining understanding of humans as components of ecosystems in the context of integrated social-ecological systems. We assert that these challenges are also linchpins in the further development of sustainability science and argue that there is a strong need for a new initiative in urban systems science to address these challenges and catalyze the next wave of fundamental advances in ecosystem science, and more broadly in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary science.


community assembly ecosystem function evolution social science sustainability urban 



The authors acknowledge support from the NSF Long Term Ecological Research Program for work in Baltimore (DEB-1027188) and Phoenix (DEB-1026865), from the NSF Urban Resilience to Extreme Weather-related Events Sustainability Research Network (URExSRN; SES-1444755), and from the NSF Urban Sustainability Research Coordination Network (RCN-1140070).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Groffman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mary L. Cadenasso
    • 2
  • Jeannine Cavender-Bares
    • 3
  • Daniel L. Childers
    • 4
  • Nancy B. Grimm
    • 5
  • J. Morgan Grove
    • 6
  • Sarah E. Hobbie
    • 3
  • Lucy R. Hutyra
    • 7
  • G. Darrel Jenerette
    • 8
  • Timon McPhearson
    • 9
  • Diane E. Pataki
    • 10
  • Steward T. A. Pickett
    • 11
  • Richard V. Pouyat
    • 12
  • Emma Rosi-Marshall
    • 11
  • Benjamin L. Ruddell
    • 13
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesCity University of New York Advanced Science Research Center and Brooklyn CollegeNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Evolution and BehaviorUniversity of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA
  4. 4.School of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  5. 5.School of Life Sciences and Global Institute of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  6. 6.USDA Forest ServiceBaltimore Field StationBaltimoreUSA
  7. 7.Department of Earth and EnvironmentBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  8. 8.Department of Botany and Plant SciencesUniversity of California RiversideRiversideUSA
  9. 9.Urban Ecology Lab, Environmental Studies ProgramThe New SchoolNew YorkUSA
  10. 10.Department of BiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  11. 11.Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesMillbrookUSA
  12. 12.USDA Forest Service, Research and DevelopmentDistrict of ColumbiaUSA
  13. 13.School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber SystemsNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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