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When Cities Became Ecosystems: How ecologists discovered urban nature, why it took them so long to do so, and what they found when they did

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Abstract:

The discipline of ecology is more than a century old. Yet, the study of urban ecosystems, as a subfield within ecology, has only existed—in a recognizable, self-identifying form—for around three decades. Why did it take so long for ecologists to turn their attention to the places where so many people live and work? What finally convinced ecologists in so many regions to shift their attention to cities? And when they finally did, what did they find that now makes this one of the discipline's most exciting, dynamic, and fastest growing research areas?

This presentation, which is part of a book project on the history of wildlife in American cities, will explore the history of urban ecology as a field of scientific inquiry. It argues that although studies of urban creatures and their habitats have existed in various forms for more than 100 years, urban ecology only emerged as a coherent field in the 1980s due to the confluence of several related factors. Once seen as uninteresting places to work, ecologists increasingly view urban areas not only as novel ecosystems that will shape the future of life on earth, but also as “natural” experiments capable of offering new insights into the fundamental properties of life itself.
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Association:
Name: ASEH Annual Conference
URL:
http://aseh.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171130_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Alagona, Peter. "When Cities Became Ecosystems: How ecologists discovered urban nature, why it took them so long to do so, and what they found when they did" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171130_index.html>

APA Citation:

Alagona, P. "When Cities Became Ecosystems: How ecologists discovered urban nature, why it took them so long to do so, and what they found when they did" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171130_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: The discipline of ecology is more than a century old. Yet, the study of urban ecosystems, as a subfield within ecology, has only existed—in a recognizable, self-identifying form—for around three decades. Why did it take so long for ecologists to turn their attention to the places where so many people live and work? What finally convinced ecologists in so many regions to shift their attention to cities? And when they finally did, what did they find that now makes this one of the discipline's most exciting, dynamic, and fastest growing research areas?

This presentation, which is part of a book project on the history of wildlife in American cities, will explore the history of urban ecology as a field of scientific inquiry. It argues that although studies of urban creatures and their habitats have existed in various forms for more than 100 years, urban ecology only emerged as a coherent field in the 1980s due to the confluence of several related factors. Once seen as uninteresting places to work, ecologists increasingly view urban areas not only as novel ecosystems that will shape the future of life on earth, but also as “natural” experiments capable of offering new insights into the fundamental properties of life itself.


 
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