Ecosystem Science Close to Home: Impacts of the Urban Environment on Nutrient Cycling in Fynbos Shrublands of the Cape Town Metropolitan Area

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

Ecosystem Science Close to Home: Impacts of the Urban Environment on Nutrient Cycling in Fynbos Shrublands of the Cape Town Metropolitan Area Ecosystem Science Close to Home: Impacts of the Urban Environment on Nutrient Cycling in Fynbos Shrublands of the Cape Town Metropolitan Area Nowhere is human activity more intense than in cities, yet process-oriented studies of ecosystems in the urban environment are rare (Grimm et aI., 2000). Although urban areas occupy just 3% of terrestrial land cover, they now contain over 50% of the world's population, increasing to 70%, or 6 billion people, by 2050 (UNEP,2007). Due to intense energy use, cities emit abundant and diverse compounds into the atmosphere that can travel long distances and enter downwind ecosystems, producing elevated levels of carbon dioxide (C02) and reactive nitrogen (N), among others. Additionally, numerous factors associated with cities significantly affect the functioning of native ecosystems near their borders, such as exotic species invasions, modified fire regimes, and altered climate (Bond et aI., 1984; Witkowski, 1991; Brazel et aI., 2000; Olden et aI., 2006). As a result, despite the small areal extent of cities, much of the global land area is influenced by the urban environment. Conservation efforts to preserve biodiversity have traditionally focused on protection of wildlands in order to prevent development or other direct human use. However, with 88% of protected areas worldwide now likely to be impacted by urban growth (McDonald et aI., 2008), effective conservation in the 21st century will require studies that explicitly focus on ecological processes and their maintenance within human dominated landscapes (Western, 2000; Robinson, 2006).
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date3/20/096/30/16

Funding

  • Mellon (Andrew W.) Foundation: $299,000.00

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