Does the ecological concept of disturbance have utility in urban social–ecological–technological systems?

Nancy B. Grimm, Steward T. A. Pickett, Rebecca L. Hale, Mary L. Cadenasso
  • Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, January 2017, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1002/ehs2.1255

How ecological disturbance applies to cities

What is it about?

Taking a recent conceptual framework for ecological disturbance, we consider how it applies to urban systems and use examples of land conversion, changes in tree cover, fire, and flood to show how the drivers and changes in system state are different in cities than in non-urban ecosystems.

Why is it important?

Ecological theory has been developed in presumed "pristine" ecosystems, purportedly away from the influences of humans. By considering a city, arguably the most human-influenced of all ecosystems, we can show the utility of ecological theory for all ecosystems.


Nancy Grimm
Arizona State University Charles Trumbull Hayden Library

Really fun to work with Steward, Mary, and Rebecca on this conceptual paper, bringing together our perspectives on disturbance (which we each developed through work on non-urban systems originally) to apply them to cities.

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The following have contributed to this page: Nancy Grimm