Urban ecology is a new phenomenon compared to the study of ecology. This concept is quite important simply because of the fact that in the next 40 years, 2/3rd of the global population will be making their home in the expanding urban centers. Under the cloud of urban environment, one considers the environment dominated by paved surfaces, high-density commercial and residential buildings along with other unique landscape that is quite different to the environments studied previously in the domain ecology.
1. Studying Urban Ecology
As urban ecosystem is a part of ecology, the techniques of the two are quite similar. The study techniques related to ecology have gone under several development procedures over the centuries, whereas urban ecosystem is quite modern in its approach. Urban ecology studies include methods such as biochemical and chemical techniques, temperature recording and ecological research sites.
2. Environmental effects
Humans are the chief driving force of urban ecology that manipulate the environment in a number of ways like introducing foreign species, altering biogeochemical cycles and modifying waterways along with land surfaces.
3. Trade and the introduction of foreign species
To fulfill the demand and to maintain urban areas, both long distance trade and local shipping are required. Carbon dioxide emissions also add up to the accumulation of nutrient deposits and greenhouse gases in the air and soil of urban environments. Additionally, shipping facilitates distribution of living organisms unintentionally and brings them to such environments where they would not inhabit naturally. Alien or introduced species are the populations of organisms thriving in an area where they did not evolve naturally due to inadvertent or intentional human activity.
4. Altering Biogeochemical Cycles
Urbanization calls for heavy use of chemicals by construction, industries, energy providing services and agriculture. Such demands impact biogeochemical cycles in the form of acid rain, global warming and eutrophication. Furthermore, the impermeable surfaces prevent nutrients to return to the soil, atmosphere and water. Expansion of urban centers calls for heavy demand of fertilizers that can alter the soil’s chemical composition. Accumulation of pollution and chemicals in the air result in the formation of smog.
5. Modification of waterways and land
There is an increase in demand by the humans for constructing urban centers. Land also gets allocated for housing and agriculture so as to sustain the city’s growing population. Deforestations is said to be the result of human activities for meeting the requirements of urbanization. On the other hand, waterways modification comes in the shape of artificial dams, reversal of rivers and dams.
6. Effects on climate
It has been observed that outlying areas and urban environments exhibit unique precipitation and local temperatures due to altered geochemical cycles and pollution. Some examples are greenhouse gases, oasis effect, acid rain and urban heat island.
There seems to be a vast change in the world ecology today. The coming years would surely witness a transformation in the ecological balance which might damage the environment to an extent.