From Patterns to Emerging Processes in Mechanistic Urban Ecology

Trends Ecol Evol. 2006 Apr;21(4):186-91. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2005.11.019. Epub 2005 Dec 19.


Rapid urbanization has become an area of crucial concern in conservation owing to the radical changes in habitat structure and loss of species engendered by urban and suburban development. Here, we draw on recent mechanistic ecological studies to argue that, in addition to altered habitat structure, three major processes contribute to the patterns of reduced species diversity and elevated abundance of many species in urban environments. These activities, in turn, lead to changes in animal behavior, morphology and genetics, as well as in selection pressures on animals and plants. Thus, the key to understanding urban patterns is to balance studying processes at the individual level with an integrated examination of environmental forces at the ecosystem scale.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ecology*
  • Urbanization*