Research Topic

Global Urban Biodiversity and the Importance of Scale

About this Research Topic

Despite rapid urbanization, we lack a general framework to study global urban biodiversity across scales. Many ecological and evolutionary processes are affected by urbanization, but cities vary by orders of magnitude in both their size and degree of development. An implicit assumption of most urban evolutionary ecology studies is that ecological and social processes scale consistently across the great diversity in city size, such that the patterns found in small and mid-sized urban areas would be the same in very large ones. However, social and physical characteristics of cities have been shown to scale in a variety of ways including linearly, superlinearly and sublinearly. City size is quantified differently across the globe (e.g., by human population size or impervious surface area) and the precise relationships between city size, biodiversity, and drivers that influence biodiversity are key knowledge gaps in the field of urban evolutionary ecology. Understanding these scaling relationships and their deviations is necessary to inform global urban biodiversity management. Achieving this requires a truly global and interdisciplinary approach, extending across the regional biases that persist in urban ecology, and integrating the historical and ongoing social inequities that underpin urban biodiversity.

The aim of this research topic is to explore these knowledge gaps in the field of scaling and global urban biodiversity. We have established a regionally and disciplinarily diverse editorial team and will recruit authors to: 1) quantitatively test global scaling relationships (as hypothesized in Uchida et al. (https://ecoevorxiv.org/9kfp2/); 2) provide insights from understudied regions on the interplay between ecological, evolutionary and social factors that drive urban biodiversity; and, 3) explore human dimensions of urban biodiversity scaling, including understanding how scaling can influence biodiversity management, environmental justice and cross-scale functional arrangements whereby differently scaling natural-cultural processes overlap to form novel urban ecosystems. We envision two main sections of contributed papers.

SECTION 1: Global patterns and processes in biodiversity scaling. Papers in this section will focus on documenting macroecological patterns and processes of how biodiversity and eco-evolutionary processes scale with city size in urban areas including those related to ecosystem services and disservices with specific implications for biodiversity. We aim to solicit papers from areas traditionally under-represented in global urban biodiversity and macroecological science. We will ask authors to discuss outstanding questions in the context of their region or to develop more synthetic papers.

SECTION 2: Philosophical and ethical issues arising from urban biodiversity scaling. Papers in this section will focus on documenting philosophical, ethical or political issues that arise from conservation and scale in cities, emphasizing the human dimensions of biodiversity. We aim to solicit papers from a diverse set of scholars, geographically, and in terms of disciplinary approach to questions of biodiversity and urban ecology. We will ask authors to reflect on Uchida et. al. (see above) and possibly papers from Section 1 above, to explore how these ideas translate into philosophical or ethical problems and solutions which are of relevance to managing biodiversity in urban ecosystems.

We would also like to credit Mr Dan Cooper and Mr Chase Neisner of UCLA for their assistance with this Research Topic.

Please Note:
• Abstracts are not compulsory and failing to submit an abstract will not prevent a full manuscript submission. However, they enable the Guest Editors to perform a preliminary assessment and are therefore highly encouraged.
• Guest Editors will evaluate each abstract and provide feedback to the authors, including recommendation to transfer to a different Research Topic or journal section based on the relevance of the content.
• While submissions of abstracts are encouraged before the deadline, abstracts will be considered for evaluation also after it (the submission link will remain active).
• Abstracts have a maximum word count of 1000.
• Authors can find the full list of article types accepted for this collection here.


Keywords: urbanization, eco-evolutionary dynamics, scale, racial justice, macroecology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Despite rapid urbanization, we lack a general framework to study global urban biodiversity across scales. Many ecological and evolutionary processes are affected by urbanization, but cities vary by orders of magnitude in both their size and degree of development. An implicit assumption of most urban evolutionary ecology studies is that ecological and social processes scale consistently across the great diversity in city size, such that the patterns found in small and mid-sized urban areas would be the same in very large ones. However, social and physical characteristics of cities have been shown to scale in a variety of ways including linearly, superlinearly and sublinearly. City size is quantified differently across the globe (e.g., by human population size or impervious surface area) and the precise relationships between city size, biodiversity, and drivers that influence biodiversity are key knowledge gaps in the field of urban evolutionary ecology. Understanding these scaling relationships and their deviations is necessary to inform global urban biodiversity management. Achieving this requires a truly global and interdisciplinary approach, extending across the regional biases that persist in urban ecology, and integrating the historical and ongoing social inequities that underpin urban biodiversity.

The aim of this research topic is to explore these knowledge gaps in the field of scaling and global urban biodiversity. We have established a regionally and disciplinarily diverse editorial team and will recruit authors to: 1) quantitatively test global scaling relationships (as hypothesized in Uchida et al. (https://ecoevorxiv.org/9kfp2/); 2) provide insights from understudied regions on the interplay between ecological, evolutionary and social factors that drive urban biodiversity; and, 3) explore human dimensions of urban biodiversity scaling, including understanding how scaling can influence biodiversity management, environmental justice and cross-scale functional arrangements whereby differently scaling natural-cultural processes overlap to form novel urban ecosystems. We envision two main sections of contributed papers.

SECTION 1: Global patterns and processes in biodiversity scaling. Papers in this section will focus on documenting macroecological patterns and processes of how biodiversity and eco-evolutionary processes scale with city size in urban areas including those related to ecosystem services and disservices with specific implications for biodiversity. We aim to solicit papers from areas traditionally under-represented in global urban biodiversity and macroecological science. We will ask authors to discuss outstanding questions in the context of their region or to develop more synthetic papers.

SECTION 2: Philosophical and ethical issues arising from urban biodiversity scaling. Papers in this section will focus on documenting philosophical, ethical or political issues that arise from conservation and scale in cities, emphasizing the human dimensions of biodiversity. We aim to solicit papers from a diverse set of scholars, geographically, and in terms of disciplinary approach to questions of biodiversity and urban ecology. We will ask authors to reflect on Uchida et. al. (see above) and possibly papers from Section 1 above, to explore how these ideas translate into philosophical or ethical problems and solutions which are of relevance to managing biodiversity in urban ecosystems.

We would also like to credit Mr Dan Cooper and Mr Chase Neisner of UCLA for their assistance with this Research Topic.

Please Note:
• Abstracts are not compulsory and failing to submit an abstract will not prevent a full manuscript submission. However, they enable the Guest Editors to perform a preliminary assessment and are therefore highly encouraged.
• Guest Editors will evaluate each abstract and provide feedback to the authors, including recommendation to transfer to a different Research Topic or journal section based on the relevance of the content.
• While submissions of abstracts are encouraged before the deadline, abstracts will be considered for evaluation also after it (the submission link will remain active).
• Abstracts have a maximum word count of 1000.
• Authors can find the full list of article types accepted for this collection here.


Keywords: urbanization, eco-evolutionary dynamics, scale, racial justice, macroecology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

01 July 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

01 July 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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