About this Research Topic
Biodiversity is the foundation for all ecosystem services. With the majority of the world’s population residing in cities, and with this number anticipated to grow substantially, understanding the patterns and drivers of urban diversity is crucial. This is especially in light of how cities are moving from grey to green infrastructure. Despite high levels of disturbance and habitat modification, urban ecosystems still host substantial levels of biodiversity.
A fundamental goal of ecological research is to understand the mechanisms that drive community assembly at multiple spatial scales. In the urban environment, the processes that maintain diversity involve not only general ecological mechanisms (e.g. dispersal, environmental filtering), but also interactions with human behavior and decision-making under altered environmental conditions (e.g. the introduction of non-native species). While the theoretical foundations of community ecology comprise over 100 years of research, most of our knowledge of the mechanisms that drive community assembly remains limited to relatively pristine systems. This knowledge gap still exists despite the major changes humans are making to the landscape.
Urban environments are major areas of ecological change while harboring substantial native and non-native biodiversity. Yet the fundamental, multi-scale processes that shape biodiversity in pristine systems, such as the relationship between local and regional species pools have not been explored critically in the built environment, nor have anthropogenic effects been fully integrated into process-based models of urban community assembly. Although the biodiversity of urban ecosystems is by no means understudied, the focus of most investigations is either to explain broad-scale patterns across urban areas or to explain the patterns at local scales. What is lacking is an integration of both natural and human-mediated processes into a multi-scale conceptual model of biodiversity for urban ecosystems.
As such, the processes that maintain existing levels of urban diversity remain understudied. Identifying the links between urban ecological processes and patterns has, therefore, become a fundamental research goal to support the relationship between urban biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services. Here, we seek to codify research on the contemporary patterns and drivers shaping biodiversity within and across cities, and at multiple spatial scales. We solicit original perspective pieces, reviews, and research articles focusing on how species assemblages are, and become, organized in urban ecosystems. We seek submissions that lean on general ecological theory to understand urban community assembly and, when possible identify and/or propose new theory.
Keywords: Biodiversity, Cities, Environmental constraints, Traits
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