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The real urban jungle

MADISON, WI, August 4, 2010 How well do you understand life in your own backyard? Cities and suburbs form their own unique ecosystems and ecology, where humans aren't visitors; they are an integral component, like trees in a forest or coral in a reef. If more than half of the Earth's people live in cities and the amount of paved surfaces in the United States is equivalent to the area of Ohio, shouldn't our sciences thrive in the city?

Urban Ecosystem Ecology is a new book from the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). It takes on the important task of reconciling environmental sciences with the world's growing urbanization. From wildlife to water, from urban agriculture to low-impact development, we need a better understanding of the urban ecosystem.

"Urban Ecosystem Ecology explores the ecology of urban and suburban ecosystems in its traditional sense, but it puts humans into the ecosystem rather than assigning them positions of onlookers or polluters," say editors Jacqueline Aitkenhead-Peterson and Astrid Volder. "Just as the environment of aquatic species may change because of beaver dams, or the environment of insects may change because of hurricanes, we will explore the environment of wildlife, vegetation, and soil in the circumstances of urbanization. Readers will especially benefit from a synthesis of the literature, results from urban ecosystems, and modified methods of analysis."

Jacqueline Aitkenhead-Peterson is an Assistant Professor of Urban Water and Nutrient Management within the Soil and Crop Science department at Texas A&M University. Her research and teaching have focused on stream chemistry and the impact of land use/land cover management on soil and freshwater nutrient dynamics.

Astrid Volder is an Assistant Professor of Horticultural Landscape Ecology within the Horticultural Sciences department at Texas A&M University. Her research and teaching focus on plant stress response and belowground ecology as affected by climate change, urbanization and ecosystem management.

The book includes chapters on how urban areas affect weather, air quality, water quality, and wildlife. It also addresses how to plan and manipulate the urban ecosystem through green roofs and garden roofs, green infrastructure planning, along with urban forestry and lawn ecology.


Contact: Sara Uttech
American Society of Agronomy

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