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Urban ecology is a rapidly developing scientific discipline with great relevance to sustainable city design and management. Though several frameworks have been proposed in the last 10 years, urban ecology, as yet, has no complete, mature theory. There are, however, general principles emerging that may facilitate the development of such a theory. In the meantime, these principles can serve as useful guides for ecological landscape design and maintenance. This paper aims to use the principles to conceptually frame a series of papers to follow in this special issue. The main ecological principles concerning cities are that: 1) Cities are ecosystems; 2) Cities are spatially heterogeneous; 3) Cities are dynamic; 4) Human and natural processes interact in cities; and 5) Ecological processes are still at work and are important in cities. The first three principles address the structure of cities and the change in structure through time. The remaining two principles focus on ecological processes in cities. We briefly summarize each of these principles and their roots in the ecological and design fields. Each principle points to ecological functions that can be translated into ecosystem services. Application of these principles to ecological landscape design and maintenance is discussed.
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Cadenasso, M.L. and S.T.A. Pickett. 2008. Urban principles for ecological landscape design and management:
Scientific fundamentals. Cities and the Environment 1(2):article 4, 16 pp.
http://escholarship.bc.edu/cate/vol1/iss2/4.
Cities and the Environment
2008 Volume 1, Issue 2 Article 4
Urban Principles for Ecological Landscape
Design and Management:
Scientific Fundamentals
Mary L. Cadenasso and Steward T. A. Pickett
Abstract
Urban ecology is a rapidly developing scientific discipline with great relevance to sustainable
city design and management. Though several frameworks have been proposed in the last 10
years, urban ecology, as yet, has no complete, mature theory. There are, however, general
principles emerging that may facilitate the development of such a theory. In the meantime,
these principles can serve as useful guides for ecological landscape design and maintenance.
This paper aims to use the principles to conceptually frame a series of papers to follow in this
special issue. The main ecological principles concerning cities are that: 1) Cities are
ecosystems; 2) Cities are spatially heterogeneous; 3) Cities are dynamic; 4) Human and
natural processes interact in cities; and 5) Ecological processes are still at work and are
important in cities. The first three principles address the structure of cities and the change in
structure through time. The remaining two principles focus on ecological processes in cities.
We briefly summarize each of these principles and their roots in the ecological and design
fields. Each principle points to ecological functions that can be translated into ecosystem
services. Application of these principles to ecological landscape design and maintenance is
discussed.
Keywords
Urban ecology; concepts; theory; heterogeneity; ecosystem; coupled human-natural system;
landscape design; management.
Cadenasso and Pickett: Urban principles for landscape design and management
2
INTRODUCTION
Though urban ecological research reaches back to the early 20
th
century, it has only recently
emerged into the ecological mainstream (Collins et al. 2000). An urban ecology theory has not been
articulated, and consequently, much of the accumulated wisdom of the science, and its framework for
advance and application, are not widely appreciated. Yet there exist individual principles and
emerging generalizations about the structure and function of urban ecosystems (Alberti 2008).
Individually, the principles have been put forth in a variety of contexts, and quantitative data are
increasingly provided to support them (Cadenasso et al. 2006b). Here we bring these principles
together to provide a structure that increases the value of the individual ideas and to make the body of
insight more useful for practitioners. Because the ecological science of urban systems is still
developing, the principles presented here will undoubtedly be refined, expanded, or perhaps even
replaced as the field evolves. However, it is important for the development of an integrated,
ecologically-based science of urban systems that this theoretical milestone be marked and
summarized.
An additional goal of this paper is to link the emerging theory of urban ecology to the ongoing
dialog about ecological design and management of landscapes (Johnson and Hill 2001; Nassauer
2001; Spirn 2001; McGrath et al. 2007). Already there is much good advice and practice on
ecologically motivated site design and landscape architecture (Dramstad et al. 1996; Ndubisi 1997;
Steiner 2002). One leading example is the Sustainable Sites Initiative (2007). This and other efforts
are aimed at enhancing the ecosystem services and reducing the ecological degradation associated with
the design and management of landscapes in urban areas. The ecosystem services recognized by the
Sustainable Sites Initiative owe much to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2003). Hence, there
are already shared roots between the science and the practice. Our intent here is to clarify the
scientific basis of 5 urban principles. These principles point to ecosystem functions that translate to
services in urban landscapes. We present the scientific principles first, and then discuss implications
for ecological landscape management and design in the final section of the paper.
The five principles are that 1) cities or urban areas are ecosystems, 2) they are heterogeneous,
3) they are dynamic, 4) their human and biophysical components interact, and 5) biophysical processes
remain important in them. The first principle, that urban areas are ecosystems, lays out the
fundamental assumption of contemporary urban ecology. We define the concept of ecosystem as it is
traditionally used in ecological science, and indicate what must be added to explicitly address urban
systems. The urban ecosystem concept is inclusive of the most intense levels of urbanization, but it
also addresses the structure and function of the exurban fringe. The remaining principles draw out
more specific implications of the overarching principle that cities are ecosystems. There are many
connections between the individual principles and a comprehensive perspective on management and
design of urban landscapes emerges from considering all the principles together. The second principle
recognizes that urban systems are spatially heterogeneous. Spatial relationships are thus key to
understanding, designing, and managing the individual patches of urban systems, as well as the whole
urban matrix. The third principle, that urban systems are dynamic, emphasizes that the spatial
heterogeneity and the ecological and social processes that connect patches are not stationary through
time. The fourth principle, that human and biophysical components of urban systems interact,
emphasizes one of the key aspects of the ecosystem concept as it applies to urban areas. Finally, the
fifth principle, that biophysical processes remain important in urban systems, emphasizes that even
when ecological processes are obscured by built and social processes and structures, they can be
capitalized on for landscape design and management. Together, these five principles have
implications for how urban landscape projects and management of different urban landscape patches
are conceived, constructed, linked, and managed.
Cities and the Environment 1(2):2008
3
Before presenting the principles, it is necessary to define what we mean by a principle.
Theories are the conceptual tools by which sciences are structured and advanced (Pickett et al. 2007).
They contain a wide array of interacting components. A complete theory consists of 10 components
plus the statement of domain (Table 1). Some of these are primarily conceptual, others combine
conceptual and empirical information, and some are largely empirical. In other words, theories are
combined conceptual and empirical constructs. The components that are entirely or partially
conceptual can be considered to be principles, as opposed to the factual or primarily empirical
observations. One kind of conceptual tool in theory that we exclude from the category of principle is
models. While models are conceptual, they combine multiple concepts, definitions, and relationships,
and hence are complex constructions that bring principles together as an explanatory or predictive tool.
A review of urban ecological models is beyond our scope. Rather, we present an overview of the
current state of the major principles of urban ecology. Our list of principles is not exhaustive, but
focuses on those which are most relevant to ecological landscape design and management.
Table 1. Components of theory and their definitions. All components are developed within a
stated domain for the theory. A theory increases in completeness as more of the components are
addressed. The components are not necessarily sequential in development (Adapted from
Pickett et al. 2007).
COMPONENTS DESCRIPTION
Assumptions Conditions or structures needed to build the theory
Concepts Labeled regularities in the phenomena
Definitions Conventions and prescriptions necessary for the theory to work
with clarity
Facts Confirmable records for phenomena
Confirmed
generalizations
Condensations and abstractions from a body of facts that have
been tested or systematically observed
Laws Conditional statements of relationship or causation, statements of
identity, or statements of process that hold within a universe of
discourse
Models Conceptual constructs that represent or simplify the structure and
interaction sin the material world
Translation modes Procedures and concepts needed to move from the abstractions of
a theory to the specifics of application or test or vice versa
Hypotheses Testable statements derived from or representing various
components of theory
DOMAIN*
Framework Nested causal or logical structure of a theory
*Domain refers to the scope in space, time, and phenomena addressed by a theory; specification of the
universe of discourse for a theory.
Theory completeness
Cadenasso and Pickett: Urban principles for landscape design and management
4
Cities are Ecosystems
The first major principle posits that urban areas, which we call “cities” for short, are
ecosystems. This may be surprising if ecosystems are considered to be strictly self-maintaining,
homeostatic, and essentially closed entities. However, the core ecosystem definition does not, in fact,
invoke these assumptions. Simply put, an ecosystem is the interaction between a biotic complex and a
physical complex within an area bounded for research purposes (Figure 1). This is the essence of
Tansley’s (1935) original definition of the ecosystem, and it is the core that has survived to motivate
contemporary research and application (Jax et al. 1998; Pickett and Cadenasso 2002; Jax 2006).
Whether a particular ecosystem is closed, homeostatic, or autotrophic, are empirical questions to be
answered through research, not a presupposition of the basic concept.
Social
complex
Built
complex
The biological ecosystem concept
The human ecosystem concept
Biotic
complex
Physical
complex
Figure 1. The biological and human ecosystem concepts compared. The biological concept
includes biotic and physical complexes, while the human ecosystem concept explicitly adds
social and built complexes. While buildings, infrastructure and land modifications are
certainly physical entities, we use “built” here to explicitly address these anthropogenic
components of the system. All the complexes are components of urban ecosystems, spanning
cities, suburbs, and exurbs.
Cities are ecosystems by virtue of having interacting biological and physical complexes.
There are organisms in cities, including people, as well as air, soil, water, light, and physical regulators
such as temperature and day length. Of course, the biotic complex in cities has complex social
structure (Grove et al. 2005, 2006a,b) including institutions (Steiner 2002). People are spatially and
temporally organized into such institutions as households, neighborhoods and communities, different
kinds of associations, as well as agencies, congregations, businesses, and markets. Social structure
results from population density, age structure, ethnic and racial composition, economic class, and
lifestyle. This richness of social structures and interactions are the core of an inclusive conception
labeled the human ecosystem framework (Machlis et al. 1997). Likewise, the physical complex of
cities contains not only the native substrates and soils, and any remaining or newly emergent non-
managed vegetation and animal populations, but also highly modified or covered soils, maintained and
introduced vegetation, buildings, roads, utility infrastructure, and various kinds of paved surfaces.
Thus, an urban ecosystem has some additional complexities compared to wild or agricultural
ecosystems (Cadenasso et al. 2006a). However, the exact nature of the new structures that contribute
to both the physical and the biotic complexes in cities can be seen as extensions of the basic ecosystem
concept (Tansley 1935), and not violations of its definition (Figure 1; Grimm et al. 2003). Because
Cities and the Environment 1(2):2008
5
urban ecosystems include novel human artifacts such as buildings, infrastructure, and modified land
forms, we emphasize this additional layer of complexity as the built component. Cities, in short, are
human ecosystems, with biotic, social, physical, and built components all interacting with each other
(Machlis et al. 1997; Pickett et al. 1997; Grimm et al. 2000; Alberti et al. 2003).
The ecosystem concept does not presuppose a single spatial scale. Instead, the boundaries of
the system are defined by the research question (Likens 1992) so that ecosystems can be of any size.
This affords the concept great flexibility because the entire city can be considered an ecosystem, but so
too can a watershed, neighborhood and even an individual parcel within the city. In other words, any
spatial arena that contains interacting physical and biotic complexes can be an ecosystem. Smaller
ecosystems are physically nested within larger ecosystems. Such hierarchical thinking is key to
applying ecological insights to landscape design (Steiner 2002).
Because of the inclusiveness of the concept, the components must be specified by the user,
and the particular research question addressed at each scale may differ. A scale particularly relevant to
ecological landscaping is the parcel scale, which refers to a single management unit or household
property. At this scale, occupants or managers of each parcel determine the types, amount, and
arrangement of materials on the land such as vegetation, impervious surfaces, and buildings. In
addition, management decisions affect 1) the amount of water coming into and going out of the parcel,
2) fertilizer use and potential runoff of nutrients and pollutants from the property, and 3) the amount of
energy used to maintain the physical and biotic components.
Cities are Heterogeneous
When viewed from a distance, or represented at coarse, regional scales, urban areas are often
depicted as rough edged, amoeboid splotches on a contrasting, often green, background (Batty 1996).
While understanding the regional and global distribution of urban areas is important because it points
out their current extent and tracks their continued spread (Alig et al. 2004), it neglects their internal
heterogeneity, which is one of their most salient ecological features. Heterogeneity has been adopted
by contemporary ecology as one of its main theoretical and research tenets. Ecologists have
discovered a major role for spatial differentiation in natural processes at various scales (Turner 1987,
1989; Kolasa and Pickett 1991; Pickett and Cadenasso 1995; Wiens 2000; Turner and Cardille 2007).
So too must urban ecology be concerned with heterogeneity (Pickett et al. 2001; Luck and Wu 2002;
Shane 2005; Band et al. 2005; Cadenasso et al. 2007). Heterogeneity in urban landscapes can be
caused by both biophysical and social structures and processes. In turn, biophysical and social
processes respond to urban spatial heterogeneity. Urban heterogeneity is often relatively fine scaled
within cities. Urbanists frequently comment on the stark and sudden changes in urban fabric from
block to block or between subdivisions (Clay 1973; Shane 2005). Heterogeneity is reinforced in cities
because of the effect of parcelization – the fact that tenancy is based on legally or socially recognized
property boundaries. Such parcelization is not only the result of ownership. Heterogeneous structure
and management can also appear in patches of public land that have been appropriated or strongly
influenced by a person or group. Differentiation of life styles and pressure for social identity within
neighborhoods may lead to clear distinctions between patches in cities (Gottdiener and Hutchison
2000; Grove et al. 2006a; Troy et al. 2007). In other words, social processes generate quite fine scale
spatial differentiation, which operates through the level of investment in a parcel, the aesthetic
preferences of the tenants, and their management habits and methods (Grove and Burch 1997; Dow
2000; Martin et al. 2004; Grove et al. 2006b; Byrne 2007; Gobster et al. 2007; Shane 2007).
Social drivers influence the biophysical heterogeneity of urban systems. This heterogeneity
can be expressed by three broad kinds of structural elements that exist and interact in cities (Ridd
1995): buildings and other structures, vegetation, and surfaces. The meaning of buildings and
vegetation is intuitive here. The nature of surfaces is more complex, because this category can include
Cadenasso and Pickett: Urban principles for landscape design and management
6
human-made surfaces, such as pavement, native surfaces such as soil or rock, and hybrid surfaces,
such as soil made bare by construction or other human activities. The three general categories of
structural cover can all exist within particular locations. For instance, a city patch may include houses
and outbuildings, the paved surfaces of streets, walks, and driveways, and vegetation cover consisting
of an overstory of trees and a ground layer of grasses and herbs. Myriad kinds of patches can be
discerned based on the relative proportions of these cover types. A new integrated classification
system differentiates urban patches based on this logic (see Cadenasso et al. 2007 for further
discussion). The fundamental structures of buildings, vegetation, and surfaces, establish the
biophysical template upon which additional kinds of social structures and processes can be layered.
Social structures include demographics, ethnicity, and education, and social processes include flows of
traffic or waste water in different kinds of infrastructural networks, for example. Therefore, social
structures and processes act on, and respond to, a biophysical template created by vegetation,
buildings, and surfaces. The dynamics and interactions among anthropogenic biophysical components
will be explored more fully in the next two principles. The complexity of the different kinds of
heterogeneity and their interactions are conspicuous features of urban ecosystems (Cadenasso et al.
2006a).
Cities are Dynamic
The spatial heterogeneity outlined above also has a temporal dimension. Change in the
structures and flows within cities, and between cities and other ecosystems lend a dynamic element to
urban form and morphology (Decker et al. 2000; Kaika 2005; Shane 2005). The built structures,
vegetation, and surfaces, as well as the process networks and rates, are subject to change due to many
causes (Pickett et al. 2001, 2004; Redman et al. 2004). One cause is vegetation succession. The
tendency of larger, slower growing plants to become dominant over time shapes a city’s landscape
texture. Older neighborhoods and suburban developments can support large trees in both public rights
of way and residential yards. The large trees are subject to senescence and mortality over long time
scales. Younger neighborhoods may have only small saplings or trees and, thus, less canopy cover.
Another major cause of change is disturbance. For example, in older neighborhoods, large mature
trees may be susceptible to damage by high winds and ice or snow loading. Thus, the dominant
canopy can come and go, often in patches defined by impact of external disturbance events.
The third cause of dynamism in cities is management. In the case of neighborhood tree cover,
management by different households may cause the vegetation succession to differ from parcel to
parcel, and from neighborhood to neighborhood (Troy et al. 2007). How vegetation is managed in
specific areas may depend on peer pressure, aesthetic preferences by different groups or classes, or
availability of disposable income to devote to yard care (Hope et al. 2003, 2006; Martin et al. 2004;
Grove et al. 2006b). Furthermore, even management in public rights of way or public parks may be
differentially influenced over time by the contrasting access to political power or the degree of
community organization in different neighborhoods (Troy et al. 2007).
Many of the kinds of dynamics noted above change with aging of households, i.e., whether
there are young children present or not, or whether the adult householders are retired and spend much
time managing property. They can also change as different groups migrate into and through a city.
The sustainability of American cities as social phenomena is due in large part to a steady flow of new
migrants from within the country or from beyond national borders. The decisions of developers and
the real estate industry to focus on certain areas, and neglect others is also a cause of dynamism in
cities. The current foreclosure epidemic is an example of a driver of dynamism in cities, in some cases
leading to vacancy, vandalism, and even to demolition of relatively new houses (Johnson 2008).
Cities and the Environment 1(2):2008
7
Human and Natural Processes Interact
The principles presented to this point lay out the nature of the structure of cities. The
principles have suggested the complexity of urban ecosystem components, the spatial patterning they
may have, and the fact that coarse and fine scale dynamics exist within the multiple kinds of patch
mosaics found across metropolitan areas. The fourth principle focuses on the interactions among the
anthropogenic and the biophysical components.
We will present two examples of human-biophysical interaction. The first is a historical one
from Baltimore, Maryland, USA (Boone 2003). In the 1880s, before the installation of a sanitary
sewer system, Baltimore’s sanitary needs were served by cesspools and privies for individual
buildings and properties. However, these facilities were inadequate to properly decompose and filter
the waste of the large population. As a consequence, 25% of children died within their first year from
waterborne gastrointestinal diseases (Boone 2003). These deaths were concentrated in low lying
areas of the city where drainage was poor. Many residents who could move to new suburban enclaves
did so, leaving poorer residents and those who were subject to legal and social segregation behind.
The continuing high infant mortality rates precipitated a crisis that led to the appointment of a city
health officer, and ultimately to the completion of a sanitary sewer system in 1911. As a result, low
lying areas of the city became economically and socially valued for their ability to support high
residential densities in some places and commercial development in others (Boone 2003). The
economic and racial segregation that began before the construction of the sewer system established a
spatial pattern that has been reinforced and exacerbated by the century of suburbanization since then.
The role of sanitation in shaping the spatial patterns in Baltimore is clear. Similar relationships have
been found in other cities (Melosi 2000).
The second example concerns the controls on plant species richness in the Central Arizona-
Phoenix region, as elucidated by Hope et al. (2003). General ecological theory, focusing on non-
inhabited landscapes, posits that species diversity is related to resource heterogeneity, as controlled by
such features as elevation and disturbance. In the urban matrix of Phoenix, current land use and the
echo of prior agricultural land use were found to be important determinants of species diversity in
addition to elevation. The current social environment also affected the richness of genera in sample
areas. Household income and age of housing were dominant correlates of biotic richness in the urban
land covers (Hope et al. 2003, 2006).
Ecological Processes Remain Important in Cities
Cities have been viewed by many specialists as social and engineering inventions, where
ecological processes may be legitimately neglected (Macionis and Perillo 2001). Ecologists for their
part have largely ignored cities (Grimm et al. 2008). However, an accumulating body of urban
ecological research is making up for this neglect and is concluding that ecological processes are not
absent from the urban mosaic. Of course, the capacities of urban green spaces to support biodiversity,
mitigate climate extremes, and facilitate infiltration of storm water are by now well recognized urban
ecological services (Sukopp et al. 1995).
But the urban landscape, beyond just green spaces, can also provide ecological services.
Concepts and approaches basic to ecological research can be applied to urban areas in an effort to
understand how the city itself functions as an ecosystem (Alberti et al. 2003). For example, nitrate, a
form of nitrogen which is an important water pollutant, enters aquatic systems from adjacent lands
(Cadenasso et al. 2008). A budget was calculated for the inputs and outputs of nitrogen in the Gwynns
Falls watershed in metropolitan Baltimore. Nitrogen inputs included regional estimates of loading
from the atmosphere (11.2 kg N/ha/yr) and from home lawn fertilization (14.4 kg N/ha/yr). Outputs
were measured as stream N flux over three years in stream reaches draining forest, suburbs, and
Cadenasso and Pickett: Urban principles for landscape design and management
8
agricultural areas in the Gwynns Falls watershed. The forested watershed had, as expected, the
highest nitrogen retention, calculated as 95% of inputs. Nitrogen retention in the suburban and
agricultural watersheds were surprisingly high at greater than 75%, indicating that substantial biotic
retention occurred in those modified portions of the landscape as well. Groffman et al. (2004)
attribute the unexpectedly high retention in suburban areas to the vegetated and pervious components
of these landscapes. This result illustrates the capacity of urban systems to perform ecological
services; additional examples include carbon sequestration and storm water retention (Pickett et al.
2008).
APPLICATION TO ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT
The five principles outlined above suggest an integrated conceptual structure for ecological
understanding of urban ecosystems. In addition, they also indicate perspectives and approaches to
landscape design and practice that can improve the ecological resilience and function of urban systems
(Table 2). The principles, and the emerging theory they suggest, affirm the value and validity of
practical recommendations made by the Sustainable Sites Initiative
(http://sustainablesites.org/index.html) and by pioneering landscape architects (McHarg 1969, 1997;
Lyle 1999; Spirn 1984; Steiner 2002; Thompson and Steiner 1997). The value is not in the individual
principles, but in the integrated, dynamic ecological view of systems comprising interacting cities,
suburbs, and exurbs. The principles point to functions that provide ecological services of value in
urban ecosystems (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2003).
Table 2. A brief summary of the general implications of each of the five principles of urban
ecology for ecologically motivated landscape design and management. This summary provides
theoretical motivation for existing and emerging best design and management practices in
landscape architecture.
Principle Summary of Implication for Landscape Design
Cities are ecosystems Design affects all four components of human
ecosystems (Fig. 1)
Cities are heterogeneous Design should enhance heterogeneity, and its
ecological functions
Cities are dynamic Design must accommodate internal and external
changes projects can experience
Human and natural processes interact in
cities
Design should recognize and plan for feedbacks
between social and natural processes
Ecological processes remain important in
cities
Remnant ecological processes yielding ecological
services should be maintained or restored
The first principle, that cities are ecosystems, suggests that landscape design theory and
management practice must address all the components of such systems. Urban ecosystems include
four broad kinds of components – organisms, a physical setting and conditions, social structures, and
the built environment – all interacting with one another (Figure 1). The interactions take the form of
flows of information, matter, energy, and organisms. Landscape designs and management strategies
that are aimed at one or two of these components or interactions, in reality have the potential to affect
them all. Landscape designs that acknowledge and work with the connections between the social,
biological, physical, and built components of the system are much less likely to produce unintended
negative consequences, and are more likely to contribute to ecological sustainability. Furthermore,
enhanced quality of urban life depends on all components of the urban ecosystem, not just some of
them.
Cities and the Environment 1(2):2008
9
The second principle, that urban systems are spatially heterogeneous, suggests that
interactions and transfers among patches within the urban matrix are affected by landscape design and
management. Urban landscape design should carefully consider the heterogeneity and its role in
maintaining desirable functions such as biodiversity, storm water retention, microclimate mitigation,
and carbon sequestration. The interaction between a particular landscape project and adjacent patches
of similar or contrasting landscape structure can enhance the function and value of individual projects.
This may mean paying particular attention to the boundaries between contrasts within or between
projects to enhance or protect from exchanges (Cadenasso and Pickett 2007). Heterogeneity is one of
the keys to the resilience of natural ecosystems. The question of how to adapt this insight to cities,
suburbs, and exurbs, suggests an opportunity for creative landscape design and management.
The third principle, that cities are dynamic, means that landscape designs should
accommodate change (Plunz 2007). Natural disturbances, extreme climate events, shifting economic
investment or disinvestment, the maturation of households, and the aging of or renovation of
infrastructure are but some of the examples of the kinds of dynamism that landscape designs and
management will have to respond to. Persistent equilibrium in cities is unlikely (Pulliam and Johnson
2001). Designs that plan for successional changes in vegetation, have redundancies in the face of
disturbance, or that encourage use by different age groups may be more resilient in changing cities. In
addition, planning for landscapes that can deal with climate change (Carreiro and Tripler 2005; Grimm
et al. 2008) is an opportunity to adapt to an ongoing global dynamic of monumental proportions.
The fourth principle, that human and natural processes interact in urban ecosystems, suggests
that both of these major categories must be addressed as landscape design goals. A design that
satisfies only obvious social criteria, such as recreation or efficiency of commerce, misses an
opportunity to contribute to ecosystem services that may ultimately have great social value. All
landscape designs and management schemes should be judged for their ability to contribute to both
social and ecological goods and services, and to reduce both social and ecological risks and
vulnerabilities (Steiner 2002; Grove et al. 2007).
The fifth principle, that ecological processes are present in cities, means that landscape
designs and management practices have the opportunity to preserve and promote those basic
biological processes upon which human health and well being depend (e.g., Sustainable Sites Initiative
2007). It will be important to provide for these functions even in areas beyond the large green parcels
usually targeted for this kind of benefit. The control of water flow and infiltration (Shuster et al.,
Carter and Butler, this volume), the retention of limiting and hence potentially polluting nutrients
(Baker et al., this volume), the sequestration of carbon dioxide, the neutralization of toxics, the
maintenance of soil respiration, the production of biomass, the amelioration of climate extremes, the
mitigation of natural disturbance, and the preservation of biodiversity (Marzluff and Rodewald, this
volume), are but some of the processes that can exist in various places in designed systems (Palmer et
al. 2004). Landscape designs and management protocols can be purposefully planned so as to
maintain, or in some cases restore, as many of these kinds of natural processes as possible throughout
the urban matrix. As such, landscape design and management can provide creative new ways to
insinuate ecological processes in cities (Felson and Pickett 2005).
As the ecological theory for urban systems matures, additional principles may be added, and
the existing principles may be refined or expanded. However, these five principles together form a
broad foundation for a successful theory of urban ecosystems, and together they lend support to the
practical suggestions already articulated for the management and design of landscapes in urban
ecosystems (Dramstad et al. 1996; Nassauer 2001; Steiner 2002). Perhaps promulgation of these
principles will encourage additional application of the ecological strategies already explored and
pioneered (e.g., Ahern 1991) by landscape architects and other urban designers and managers.
Cadenasso and Pickett: Urban principles for landscape design and management
10
All of the principles and applications above act in an environment conditioned on the feedback
between human actions and perceptions and ecological structures and functions (Plunz 2007; Pickett
and Cadenasso 2008). There are many unanswered questions about the relationships between
ecological principles and urban landscape design and management. How can landscape design and
management be used to educate people about ecological processes in cities and the role of hidden
nature in the city? How can landscapes mediate the human perceptions and actions that will affect the
other components of the system? How can landscape design and maintenance focus and transmit
ecosystem services? How can ecologically motivated landscape design be an instrument of just
allocation of environmental benefits and risks? Ecological-informed landscape design and
management has the potential to translate the fundamental ecological principles that are emerging
from the field of urban ecology into practice. It also has great potential to bring the structure and
function of cities much closer to the ideals of sustainability embodied in the structure and function of
native ecosystems. Even though the ecological principles articulated here are preliminary, they can
offer important support for ecological landscape theory and practice. These principles resonate
throughout the other contributions included in this special issue.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We thank Dr. Loren Byrne for his leadership in the “Ecological Landscaping” conference held
in October 2007 and for providing us this opportunity to articulate our ideas. Our work has benefited
greatly from interactions with generous colleagues in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study. We gratefully
acknowledge support from the US National Science Foundation (NSF), Long-Term Ecological
Research the program (DEB-0423476) and the NSF Biocomplexity in Coupled Natural-Human
Systems program (BCS-0508054). The USDA Forest Service contributes substantially to research in
Baltimore from which we draw here. The manuscript was greatly improved by comments from two
anonymous reviewers.
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Mary L. Cadenasso, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
mlcadenasso@ucdavis.edu
Steward T. A. Pickett,
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Box AB, Millbrook, NY 12545
picketts@ecostudies
... Within the contemporary scope of the urban ecology, cities are studied as heterogeneous and dynamic ecosystems, composed of biotic, physical, social and built complexes (Cadenasso and Pickett, 2008). Wachsmuth and Angelo (2018) defined two representations of urban nature that can characterize urban sustainability policy: green urban nature and gray urban nature. ...
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... In addition to being areas where anthropogenic activities are concentrated, these spaces are ecosystems that contain natural structures and systems and interact with cultural facilities (Yaman and Doygun 2014). From this point of view, the character of the urban ecosystem is characterized by abiotic (geology, geomorphology, hydrology, soil, topography and climate), biotic (biodiversity, vegetation, wildlife) and human (cultural) (transport, traditional culture and features, sense of place, residential areas) components, agricultural areas, historical and archaeological sites, and other human formation elements and their interrelationships (Cadenasso andPickett 2008, Grimm et al. 2008).The continuation of this relationship in a healthy and balanced way for cities and citizens will be possible with the planning and implementation decisions to be made with the perception of the ecosystem (Yaman and Doygun 2014). However, in our country, the urban ecosystem is deteriorating due to irregular, rapid and unplanned urbanization decisions made without an ecological basis. ...
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... Urban ecosystems are densely populated, human-dominated environments embedded within a mosaic of natural and anthropogenically modified landscapes (Cadenasso and Pickett, 2008;Grimm et al., 2008). Cities and other urban environments are the primary living areas of humans, containing approximately 55% of the world's population (United Nations, 2018). ...
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... At the same time, the steady development of social economy and technology has also led to the improvement of the requirements for modern urban landscape greening. e current stage of modern landscape architecture design is restricted by backward design concepts and inconsistent design schemes with reality, which is not conducive to improving the quality and efficiency of modern landscape architecture design, nor can it meet people's growing spiritual and entertainment needs [1][2][3][4][5]. Artificial intelligence technology has been rapidly applied to many fields of landscape architecture because of its highefficiency data knowledge transformation ability, strong analytical ability, strict reasoning, and accurate ability to select the best. ...
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... There are multiple theories and conceptual frameworks on the design, shaping and construction of new cities. Originally, designs of new cities followed artistic principles (Sitte, 1965), ecological principles (Cadenasso and Pickett, 2008) and principles of regional cities or those of compact cities (Thomas and Cousins, 1996;Anabtawi, 2018), for example. More recently, such designs need to adhere to principles of sustainable cities (Bibri, 2018), urban resilience (Ribeiro and Gonçalves, 2019), liveability (Southworth, 2016), city branding (Lu and Fu, 2019), city of public urban spaces (Carmona, 2021) or smart city development (Han and Hawken, 2018), to mention just a few. ...
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Predicting how a planned city will develop and expand after its construction, and which resources, such as energy, the city will need over time is only possible if one can rely on similar examples and reliable models. Given the existing spatial plans for the design of the new capital city of Indonesia, there is a need to develop and compare city development scenarios–in spatial expansion, population size, resource, energy and food requirements. A combination of various geospatial data approaches can address this knowledge and assessment gap. This article investigates spatial expansion, forest encroachment and sustainable energy infrastructure requirements using open access geodata and models. The hypothesis is that the constitution of the new capital city of Indonesia can rely on existing energy infrastructures but may also need to rely on additional resources. The research approach was to collect and integrate different types of geospatial data related to land use, terrain characteristics and population growth assumptions and connect these to both urban growth models and predictions and energy. This relied on land use change methodologies and urban growth models to simulate and predict spatial effects, with ca particular focus on the expansion of energy requirements. The choice to focus on energy requirements additionally required a comparison of different kinds of energy sources, such as solar and wind energy. The conclusion is that all design and expansion scenarios indicate a possible spatial conflict between locating sustainable energy production facilities with maintaining ecologically sensitive areas. A possible solution is to make use of existing mining infrastructures to enhance sustainable energy production and to make use of dual land and water solar energy systems.
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The global expansion of urbanization is posing associated environmental and socioeconomic challenges. The capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, is also facing similar threats. The development of urban green infrastructures (UGIs) are the forefront mechanisms in mitigating these global challenges. Nevertheless, UGIs in Addis Ababa are degrading and inaccessible to the city residents. Hence, a 56 km long Addis River Side Green Development Project is under development with a total investment of USD 1.253 billion funded by Chinese government aid. In phase one of this grand project, Friendship Square Park (FSP), was established in 2019 with a total cost of about USD 50 million. This paper was initiated to describe the establishment process of FSP and assess its social, economic, and environmental contributions to the city. The establishment process was described in close collaboration with the FSP contractor, China Communications Construction Company, Ltd. (CCCC). The land use changes of FSP’s development were determined by satellite images, while its environmental benefits were assessed through plant selection, planting design, and seedling survival rate. Open and/or close ended questionnaires were designed to assess the socioeconomic values of the park. The green space of the area has highly changed from 2002 (8.6%) to 2019 (56.1%) when the park was completed. More than 74,288 seedlings in 133 species of seedlings were planted in the park. The average survival rate of these seedlings was 93%. On average about 500 people visit the park per day, and 400,000 USD is generated, just from the entrance fee, per annum. Overall, 100% of the visitors were strongly satisfied with the current status of the park and recommended some additional features to be included in it. In general, the park is contributing to the environmental and socioeconomic values of the city residents, and this kind of park should be developed in other sub-cities of the city as well as regional cities of Ethiopia to increase the aesthetic, environmental and socioeconomic values of the country, at large.
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Ecological Landscape is a method of organizing the building's and maintaining the ground landscaping that considers the ecology of the site creates gardens and parks that enhance the surrounding landscape for the benefit of humans and all other organisms' life in the ecosystem. Therefore, to build an eco-landscape and sustainable urban design, these challenges need to be faced with efficient and creative ideas and hard efforts to succeed. The paper focus-es on the environmental issues, investigates and works on the development of old military sites and camps, which is destroyed by the 2011 war in Tripoli, to re-functioning and developing them as entertaining places and open public green spaces for people. Therefore, these sites have been taken as a case study of the paper, to integrate them within the urban land use planning of the city of Tripoli, considering the idea of eco-sustainable landscape architecture of the urban built environment of the city. This could create solutions for the problem of the lack of open green public spaces and places in the city of Tripoli. Index Terms-Ecological Landscaping, ecological development of old sites, eco-park planning.
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Typically, cities and nature are perceived as geographic opposites, cities being manufactured social creations, and nature being outside of human construction. Through a historical geography of water in the modern city, Kaika shows that this is not the case. Rather, nature and the modern city are fully intertwined, with cities integrating nature at every level of activity. While her empirical focus is on Athens, she discusses other major cities in the West, including London and New York.
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Spatial variation in plant diversity has been attributed to heterogeneity in resource availability for many ecosystems. However, urbanization has resulted in entire landscapes that are now occupied by plant communities wholly created by humans, in which diversity may reflect social, economic, and cultural influences in addition to those recognized by traditional ecological theory. Here we use data from a probability-based survey to explore the variation in plant diversity across a large metropolitan area using spatial statistical analyses that incorporate biotic, abiotic, and human variables. Our prediction for the city was that land use, along with distance from urban center, would replace the dominantly geomorphic controls on spatial variation in plant diversity in the surrounding undeveloped Sonoran desert. However, in addition to elevation and current and former land use, family income and housing age best explained the observed variation in plant diversity across the city. We conclude that a functional relationship, which we term the "luxury effect," may link human resource abundance (wealth) and plant diversity in urban ecosystems. This connection may be influenced by education, institutional control, and culture, and merits further study.
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Landscape pattern is generated by a variety of processes, including disturbances. In turn, the heterogeneity of the landscape may enhance or retard the spread of disturbance. The complex relationship between landscape pattern and disturbance is the subject of this book. It is designed to present an illustrative analysis of the topic, presenting the perspectives of several different disciplines. The book includes conceptual considerations, empirical studies, and management examples. Important features include: hypotheses about the spread of disturbance and the effects of scale changes in landscape studies; the multidisciplinary approach; and the explicit focus on the landscape level. The intended audience comprises graduate students, academics, and professionals interested in landscape ecology. The reader will receive a state-of-the-art treatment of a current topic in landscape ecology.
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What is good scientific practice in ecology? This essential issue is both widely discussed and contentious. It is also a philosophical matter. However, the vast majority of ecologists know very little about the contemporary philosophy of science that informs these discussions. This book brings together key insights from recent work in the philosophy of science, enlivened with ecological examples, to better inform ecologists about the fundamentals of what constitutes good science.
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Looking back at the father of ecological planning, Ian McHarg (1920-2001), and bow be influenced a generation.
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Understanding the patterns, causes, and consequences of spatial heterogeneity for ecosystem function is a research frontier in both landscape ecology and ecosystem ecology (Turner et al. 2001, Chapin et al. 2002, Wu and Hobbs 2002, Lovett et al. 2005). Landscape ecology research has contributed to tremendous gains in understanding the causes and consequences of spatial heterogeneity, how relationships between patterns and processes change with scale, and the management of both natural and human-dominated landscapes. There are now many studies in widely varied landscapes that elucidate, for example, the conditions under which organisms may respond to landscape composition or configuration, or disturbance spread may be constrained or enhanced by landscape pattern. The inclusion of a spatial component is now pro forma in many ecological studies, and tools developed by landscape ecologists for spatial analysis and modeling now enjoy widespread use (e.g., Baskent and Jordan 1995, McGarigal and Marks 1995, Gustafson 1998, Gergel and Turner 2002). Landscape ecological approaches are not limited only to “land” but are also applied in aquatic and marine ecosystems (e.g., Fonseca and Bell 1998; Bell et al. 1999; Garrabou et al. 2002; Teixido et al. 2002; Ward et al. 2002). However, with a few exceptions, the consideration of ecosystem function has lagged behind progress in understanding the causes and consequences of spatial heterogeneity for other ecological processes.
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The future of Earth's ecosystems is increasingly influenced by the pace and patterns of urbanization. One of the greatest challenges for natural and social scientists is to understand how urbanizing regions evolve through the complex interactions between humans and ecological processes. Questions and methods of inquiry specific to our traditional disciplinary domains yield partial views that reflect different epistemologies and understandings of the world. In order to achieve the level of synthesis required to see the urban ecosystem as a whole we must change the way we pose questions and search for answers. Cities are the result of human and ecological processes occurring simultaneously in time and in space and the legacy of the simultaneous processes of the past. Urban ecology is the study of the co-evolution of human-ecological systems. Scholars of both urban systems and ecology must challenge the assumptions and world views within their disciplines and work towards a hybrid theory that builds on multiple world views. The synthesis of research findings provided in this book is a first step towards articulating the challenge for scholars of urban ecosystems; it leads the way toward the integration we must achieve if we are to better understand and solve emerging issues in urban ecosystems. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC All rights reserved.
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We have presented examples from the Central Arizona-Phoenix urban ecosystem, promoting the view that we can apply familiar techniques of ecosystem ecology to cities, just as we would to any ecosystem. Given our charge to explore the intellectual frontiers of urban ecosystem understanding, it may be useful to consider whether our initial approach to mass balance should be modified. In particular, do we need to incorporate models of human behavior or economic drivers? The answer here is probably yes because the largest inputs are a consequence of human behaviors (e.g., driving patterns, fixation via combustion) and economics (e.g., imports of food, animal feed, and fuels). Would a different view of ecosystem structure improve our ability to put the mass balance to use in informing policy that will promote environmental protection? More fundamentally, would it improve our ability to predict the major points of production, accumulation, and transformation of nitrogen in the ecosystem? Again, we answer in the affirmative: Understanding how humans have manipulated paths of water flow within cities may be key to unlocking the dynamics of transport and transformation of materials. We suggest that the next step in understanding urban ecosystems is to begin to incorporate social scientific explanations, controls, and mechanisms into our existing ecosystem models. Just as ecologists learned to speak the language of physical scientists when an understanding of climatic controls and changes was required for ecological explanations, we must now engage in a dialogue and sharing of conceptual models with the social sciences. With our new emphasis on the urban extreme along a spectrum of humandominated ecosystems, the time is right to develop a more comprehensive ecosystem theory.