Predicting the assembly of novel communities in urban ecosystems

Riley Andrade, anet Franklin, Kelli L. Larson, Christopher M. Swan, Susannah B. Lerman, Heather L. Bateman, Paige S. Warren, Abigail York

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Context: Ecological communities in urban ecosystems are assembled through ecological processes, such as species interactions, dispersal, and environmental filtering, but also through human factors that create and modify the landscape. These complex interactions make it difficult to untangle the relationships between social–ecological dynamics and urban biodiversity. Objectives: As a result, there has been a call for research to address how human activities influence the processes by which ecological communities are structured in urban ecosystems. We address this research challenge using core concepts from landscape ecology to develop a framework that links social-ecological dynamics to ecological communities using the metacommunity perspective. Methods: The metacommunity perspective is a useful framework to explore the assembly of novel communities because it distinguishes between the effects of local environmental heterogeneity and regional spatial processes in structuring ecological communities. Both are shaped by social–ecological dynamics in urban ecosystems. Results: In this paper, we define social, environmental, and spatial processes that structure metacommunities, and ultimately biodiversity, in cities. We then address how our framework could be applied in urban ecosystem research to understand multi-scalar biodiversity patterns. Conclusions: Our framework provides a theoretical and empirical foundation for transdisciplinary research to examine how social-ecological dynamics mediate the assembly of novel communities in urban ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Biodiversity
  • Community ecology theory
  • Human–environment interactions
  • Metacommunity
  • Social–ecological dynamics
  • Urban ecosystems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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