New Ecological Theory

Research at the Central Arizona-Phoenix LTER focuses on understanding relationships between people and the natural environment in cities.

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 places less worthy of investigation. Urban ecology experienced a paradigm shift in the latter part of the 20th century, when it began to focus on the structure and function of cities as ecosystems. 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 an award-winning program called Ecology Explorers.

For further reading: 
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.
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.
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.

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