Biodiversity and Community Composition in Urban Ecosystems: Coupled Human, Spatial, and Metacommunity Processes

Christopher M. Swan, Steward T. A. Pickett, Katalin Szlavecz, Paige Warren and K. Tara Willey

in Urban Ecology

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199563562
Published online December 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191774713 | DOI:
Biodiversity and Community Composition in Urban Ecosystems: Coupled Human, Spatial, and Metacommunity Processes

Show Summary Details


Urban ecosystems present ecologists with the unique opportunity to study ecological communities in the context of drastic structural and environmental change unprecedented in pristine environments. The consequences of such change have led to novel modifications of species composition, dominance, behaviour, and dispersal. Inherent to these changes are the complex relationships between human behaviour and decision-making, spatial structure of the landscape, and the natural processes involved in determining local species richness and composition. Furthermore, the scope for feedback between these processes is strong, reinforcing the interdisciplinary nature of the problem of understanding the community ecology of urban ecosystems. A conceptual overview of the problem is presented, and brings to bear an emerging theme in community ecology, the concept of the metacommunity, as an instrument to integrate these processes. In developing this concept, it is contended that human valuation of species and human behaviour at the local scale has the potential to strongly influence species sorting patterns. At larger scales, human modification of spatial features, especially those related to connectance between local communities, mediates dispersal patterns, and distance-decay relationships. By embracing space explicitly in the context of metacommunity theory, the interaction and feedback with human systems can be integrated to understand patterns of species diversity and composition in urban ecosystems.

Keywords: connectance; dispersal; human decision-making; metacommunity; species diversity

Chapter.  4535 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or login to access all content.