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Trends Ecol Evol. 2006 Apr;21(4):192-9. Epub 2006 Jan 6.

A distinct urban biogeochemistry?

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Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, 116 ASI Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Most of the global human population lives in urban areas where biogeochemical cycles are controlled by complex interactions between society and the environment. Urban ecology is an emerging discipline that seeks to understand these interactions, and one of the grand challenges for urban ecologists is to develop models that encompass the myriad influences of people on biogeochemistry. We suggest here that existing models, developed primarily in unmanaged and agricultural ecosystems, work poorly in urban ecosystems because they do not include human biogeochemical controls such as impervious surface proliferation, engineered aqueous flow paths, landscaping choices, and human demographic trends. Incorporating these human controls into biogeochemical models will advance urban ecology and will require enhanced collaborations with engineers and social scientists.

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