The evolution and future of urban ecological science
Results/Conclusions: These two complementary approaches have proven useful for framing intercontinental comparisons, clarifying the scales of research, and embracing social drivers and responses as part of urban ecology. Thus the contrast between ecology IN and ecology OF represents increased complexity, moving from concern with biotic communities or fragmented ecosystems to inclusive social-ecological systems. With growing practical and theoretical concern for urban sustainability, a third level of complexity in urban ecology has clearly emerged – ecology FOR the city. While ecology FOR includes the concerns and knowledge generated by both ecology IN and OF, it acknowledges that researchers are a part of the system they study, and are in a position to help envision and advance the social goals of urban sustainability. Ecology IN, OF, and FOR contrast in the disciplinary focus, the theory of spatial heterogeneity employed, the technology for representing system structure and change, the resulting classification of components of extensive urban mosaics, the scope and nature of application to sustainability, and key research questions. The emergence of the ecology FOR the city is consonant with the goals of ESA’s Earth Stewardship Initiative to help ecologists engage with other specialists and urban dwellers to shape a more sustainable urban future.