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FEATURE ARTICLE

A New Urban Ecology

Modeling human communities as integral parts of ecosystems poses special problems for the development and testing of ecological theory

James Collins, Ann Kinzig, Nancy Grimm, William Fagan, Diane Hope, Jianguo Wu, Elizabeth Borer

Figure 3. Eugene P. Odum has categorizedClick to Enlarge Image

Ecology is the study of natural systems at the community level. So how do ecologists account for the role of people, who follow rules different from most other organisms and communities? Now that human activity has grown into a global ecological force, some ecologists are finding that traditional ecological theory does not provide good ways of understanding systems dominated by human activity. The authors examine a case in point--the city--and ask how ecological theory can modified to include human behavioral strategies. The authors suggest ways of modeling urban ecosystems by adopting tools from both biology and social science.


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