For most of ecology’s history as a discipline, the focus of study was on pristine, wildland sites. Urban areas were seen as human-disturbed ecosystems less worthy of investigation. Urban ecology emerged as an area of research in the latter part of the 20th century, focusing on ecosystem structure and function within cities. The establishment of two long-term ecological research sites in the Phoenix and Baltimore metropolitan areas in 1997 lent credibility to the study of urban ecosystems.
CAP LTER has been a leader in a burgeoning understanding of urban socio-ecological systems, and by extension, the broad integration of social science into ecological studies. In the process, CAP has led a transformation of education and graduate training that truly integrates disparate disciplines with an emphasis on problem-solving in cities. This transformation has extended to K-12 education through our award-winning Ecology Explorers program.
Grimm, N. B., S. H. Faeth, N. E. Golubiewski, C. R. Redman, J. Wu, X. Bai, and J. M. Briggs. 2008. Global change and the ecology of cities. Science 319:756-760. Abstract
Grimm, N. B., and C. L. Redman. 2004. Approaches to the study of urban ecosystems: The case of central Arizona – Phoenix. Urban Ecosystems 7(3):199-213. Abstract
Grimm, N. B., J. M. Grove, S. T. A. Pickett, and C. L. Redman. 2000. Integrated approaches to long-term studies of urban ecological systems. BioScience 50(7):571-584. Abstract
Redman, C. L., J. M. Grove, and L. Kuby. 2004. Integrating social science into the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network: Social dimensions of ecological change and ecological dimensions of social change. Ecosystems 7(2):161-171. Abstract