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Definition of the Subject

Within the science of ecology, urban ecology is defined as the study of structure, dynamics, and processes in urban ecological systems. Urban ecology is the study of the relationships of human and nonhuman organisms in urban areas, the interactions of these organisms with the native and built physical environment, and the effects of these relationships on the fluxes of energy, materials, and information within individual urban systems and between urban and nonurban systems. Urban ecology applies the methods and concepts of the biological science of ecology to urban areas, but requires and integrates with the concerns, concepts, and approaches of social sciences to produce a hybrid discipline. Urban ecological systems include individual organisms, populations, communities, and landscapes, as well as buildings and infrastructure. Urban ecology further recognizes specific urban ecosystems as a part of the global...

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Abbreviations

City:

A dense, demographically and economically heterogeneous settlement containing businesses, residences, intensive transportation infrastructure, multistory buildings, and warehousing or manufacturing. Economies of cities focus on services, processing commodities, manufacturing, or finance rather than on agricultural or resource management. Cities are often characterized by a population representing diverse social groups and economic classes in relatively close spatial proximity. As a caution, it should be noted that the term “city” is sometimes used to refer to an entire urban (definition 1) area, and sometimes used in a narrow sense to contrast with suburb (definition 2).

CSE:

City-suburban-exurban system. A comprehensive term referring to all components of a complex urban system, metropolitan area, or other cluster of urban areas.

Ecology:

The science of the relationship of organisms to each other and the physical environment, and the transformation of resources mediated by those interactions. Human ecology includes the social and institutional structures established by people as components of the system studied.

Ecosystem:

A system comprising the organisms, the physical environment, and the interactions among them within a specified volume of the Earth. Ecosystems may be of any size, depending on the research questions of interest, and are open to material and energetic flows with adjacent systems. Although this definition encompasses human ecosystems, for completeness it is considered that human ecosystems include biological components, the physical environment of air, water, soil, energy, the social and human institutions, and the built environment.

Suburb:

This term has two meanings, depending on whether an Old World or a New World context is intended. In the New World, a suburb is a component of a broadly recognized urban area, a primarily residential land cover in which single or multiple household dwellings are interspersed with the open spaces of lawns and generous street landscaping. New World suburbs are often a locus of wealth and power. Modest commercial nodes, mostly as service rather than manufacturing or warehousing, may be included in such suburbs. In contrast, Old World suburbs may be less green and more densely built than New World suburbs, and in many cases may host concentrations of lower income, less empowered persons. In the expanding cities of the global south, shanty towns and informal settlements may constitute much of the suburban realm.

Urban:

Definition 1 refers to all components of densely settled and built up areas, and contrasts with rural, agricultural, or wild lands. An alternative terminology for this inclusive definition is city-suburban-exurban (CSE) system. Definition 2 refers to dense commercial, industrial, and residential lands in contrast to suburbs and exurbs.

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Correspondence to S. T. A. Pickett .

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Pickett, S.T.A., Cadenasso, M.L. (2012). Urban Ecology . In: Meyers, R.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3_325

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