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Predicting the assembly of novel communities in urban ecosystems

Abstract

Context

Ecological communities in urban ecosystems are assembled through ecological processes, such as species interactions, dispersal, and environmental filtering, but also through human factors that create and modify the landscape. These complex interactions make it difficult to untangle the relationships between social–ecological dynamics and urban biodiversity.

Objectives

As a result, there has been a call for research to address how human activities influence the processes by which ecological communities are structured in urban ecosystems. We address this research challenge using core concepts from landscape ecology to develop a framework that links social-ecological dynamics to ecological communities using the metacommunity perspective.

Methods

The metacommunity perspective is a useful framework to explore the assembly of novel communities because it distinguishes between the effects of local environmental heterogeneity and regional spatial processes in structuring ecological communities. Both are shaped by social–ecological dynamics in urban ecosystems.

Results

In this paper, we define social, environmental, and spatial processes that structure metacommunities, and ultimately biodiversity, in cities. We then address how our framework could be applied in urban ecosystem research to understand multi-scalar biodiversity patterns.

Conclusions

Our framework provides a theoretical and empirical foundation for transdisciplinary research to examine how social-ecological dynamics mediate the assembly of novel communities in urban ecosystems.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Modified from Leibold and Chase (2017c)

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Acknowledgment

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number DEB-1832016, Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research Program (CAP LTER).

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Andrade, R., Franklin, J., Larson, K.L. et al. Predicting the assembly of novel communities in urban ecosystems. Landscape Ecol 36, 1–15 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-020-01142-1

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Keywords

  • Community ecology theory
  • Urban ecosystems
  • Metacommunity
  • Human–environment interactions
  • Biodiversity
  • Social–ecological dynamics