Urban Ecology: Plants, People and Climate Change

Urban ecology can be distinguished from its natural systems counterpart by the integration of human cultural practices into the study of biological and geological systems. Mastering the discipline of urban ecology requires dealing with issues related to the quality of air, water and soil as modified by human action, as well as with the complex economic, social, and cultural systems that dictate the flow of energy and raw materials throughout metropolitan regions. Urban habitats are characterized by high levels of disturbance, impervious paving, and heat retention that alter environmental conditions in ways that promote the growth of stress-tolerant, early successional plants that have become the de facto native vegetation of cities. This 12-credit course examines how the interacting forces of urbanization, globalization and climate change have shaped the ecology of our cities and how planning, design and management strategies can enhance the social and environmental value of these emergent ecosystems.