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Urban ecosystems: What would Tansley do?

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Pickett, Steward T. A.; Grove, J. M.

Year Published



Urban Ecosystems. 12(1): 1-8.


The ecosystem concept was introduced in ecology originally to solve problems associated with theories of succession and ecological communities. It has evolved to become one of ecology's fundamental ideas, and has proven to be applicable to a wide variety of research questions and applications. However, there is controversy about whether or how well the ecosystem concept is suited to urban habitats. By examining Arthur Tansley's original presentation of the ecosystem concept, and exploring how the ecological context of the concept has changed, we indicate that the fundamental concept of the ecosystem is well suited to urban ecological studies. The concept can he clarified for urban use by including a social complex and a built complex to insure that human social institutions and actions, and the structures and infrastructure they build are explicitly included in the ecosystem concept. The ecosystem concept is thus seen as clearly robust to use in urban areas.


Pickett, Steward T. A.; Grove, J. M. 2009. Urban ecosystems: What would Tansley do?. Urban Ecosystems. 12(1): 1-8.

Last updated on: August 26, 2015