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Lecture 2. Ecosystem Services, Urban Ecology, Land Ownership, the Urban-Rural Gradient, Footprints of Cities. Lecture 2 topics. 1. Ecosystem Services The concept of urban ecology The urban/rural gradient Land ownership patterns Mountains to Sound Greenway

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lecture 2

Lecture 2

Ecosystem Services, Urban Ecology, Land Ownership, the Urban-Rural Gradient, Footprints of Cities

lecture 2 topics
Lecture 2 topics

1. Ecosystem Services

  • The concept of urban ecology
  • The urban/rural gradient
  • Land ownership patterns
  • Mountains to Sound Greenway

6. Ecological/Carbon footprints


Major Ecosystem Services (Terrestrial and Aquatic)

Functions Associated services

Hydrologic functioning Water supply, groundwater flow, flood mitigation, transportation, hydro-electricity, stream and lake recreation, water quality

Primary production and Energy capture, agriculture, timber, food-chain

biomass accumulation support, carbon storage

Animal populations and Energy flow for fish, wild game, songbirds,

secondary production other wildlife

Biological diversity Species biodiversity, pollination, aesthetics,

maintenance food-chain support, medicines, pest control

Decomposition Soil renewal, benthic food chain

Soil and sediment building Carbon storage, nutrient storage,soil-

moisture storage


Major Ecosystem Services (Terrestrial and Aquatic) – cont.

Functions Associated services

Nutrient and toxic residuals Waste assimilation, groundwater

capture and cycling quality, renewal of soil fertility

Insect/disease regulation Pest control, biodiversity support,

food-chain support

Vegetation succession and Habitat diversity, seed-bank diversity,

disturbance aesthetics, real-estate value

Air and climate self-regulation Air purification, moderation of weather

extremes, visibility, and human health

what is urban ecology
What is Urban Ecology?
  • Urban Ecology is the study of ecosystems that include humans living in cities and urbanizing landscapes.
  • It is an emerging, interdisciplinary field that aims to understand how human and ecological processes can coexist in human-dominated systems and help societies with their efforts to become more sustainable.
  • Urban Ecology is an integrative sub-discipline of ecology. It focuses on urban-dominated ecosystems: these include cities, suburbs, exurbs, villages connected to cities by transportation or utilities, and hinterlands managed or affected by the energy and material from the urban core and suburbs.

Marzluff et al. 2008

There were dramatic changes in Dominant Landscape

Suburban & exurban lands increased by 756% & 193%, respectively

Rural becomes suburban

Wildland becomes exurban

Average patch size:

Suburban & exurban increases

Rural & wildland decreases

Fragmentation of forests




Decline in Interior Forest

  • Area > 200m from settlement decline 60% from 29,721 ha in 1974 to 17,697 ha in 1998
  • Average size of interior patches dropped 39% from 2701ha to 1040 ha
  • No patches remain within suburban landscape that are >200 from settlement
  • Total edge declined (from 913 Km to 644 Km) because patch size decreased

Interior Forest

(Hansen et al. 2005. Ecological Applications 15: 1893-1905)


2007 – 58% of US population lives in urban areas

2030 – estimated 60% of the global population will live in a metropolitan setting

Interactions between non-living factors such as sunlight and water, and

biological factors, such as plants, animals and microbes, take place in all environments, including cites.

Humans now use 40% of global NPP, >50% of accessible freshwater runoff

Half of world’s forests have disappeared


For most of human history, the influence of humans on biophysical processes, ecological systems, and evolutionary change has been relatively limited. Not so now – humans cause large land use changes and resource consumption.

Humans have:

Altered habitats and species composition,

Caused species extinctions

Moved species around the world

disrupted of hydrological processes,

Modified energy flow and nutrient cycles

Changed earth’s carbon and nitrogen cycle

Released into the environment naturally occuring trace metals Cd, Zn, Hg, Ni, as and new anthropogenic substances PCBs, chlorofluorocarbons

  • Climate – natural gradients of temp and moist
  • Topography
  • Urban/rural gradients


climate – urban heat island effect

air pollution

road density


vegetation – forest cover

permeable land areas to water

invasive species


Land ownership patterns in Washington

  • Private
  • Housing
  • Industry
  • Non-industrial forest land
  • Agriculture and forestry
  • Government/Public
  • City
  • County
  • State - DNR
  • Federal – USFS, BLM,DOD, etc.
  • Tribal

Washington Forest Land Ownership

Acres Acres % of total

(000) (000)

Total land area 42,515 100

Forestland 22,119 52

Other land (urban, crop,etc) 20,396 48

Total Government Forestland 14,261 64

Federal 9,538 43

U.S. Forest Service 5,485

U.S. Forest Service wilderness 2,569

U.S. Forest Scenic and recreation 165

National Parks 1,132

Dept of Defense 60

Bureau of Land Management 69

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges 58

State Trust lands 2,683 12

Native American 1,678 7

County and Municipal 362 2

Total Private Forestland 7,858 36

Industrial private land owners 4,614 21

Non-industrial private land owners 3,244 15


Mountains to Sound Greenway

  • The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is the nonprofit organization that helped to protect these lands and preserve them for the public's benefit. We carry that work forward by encouraging public land acquisition along I-90 and through environmental stewardship and educational activities. We unite hikers, corporate executives, government leaders, environmentalists and community advocates who share a vision of careful planning for growth balanced by preservation of forested open spaces, clean air and water, for ourselves and for future generations

Protect and enhance a 100-mile corridor of permanent open space lands along Interstate 90 from Seattle to Central Washington. The Greenway embraces city parks and trails, wildlife habitat, working and protected forests, recreational opportunities in nature, local history, scenic beauty, tourism and educational activities that promote a sustainable balance between population growth and a healthy environment.



• Enhance scenic beauty along Interstate 90 and byways

• Create an interconnected trail network from cities to the mountains

• Educate about regional human and natural history

• Improve access to nature for all citizens

• Protect and enhance wildlife habitat and corridors

• Preserve working farms and forests



Much of the Greenway is public land and includes over 700,000 acres held by local, state and federal agencies in trust for the public good. It encompasses protected and working forests, farms, historic towns, lakes, campgrounds, rivers, trails and wildlife habitat 


6. Ecological/Carbon Footprints


Also, a carbon calculator at



Ecological Footprints of Cities is Well Beyond their Borders

Bill Rees, UBC

Vancouver 472,000 people, 11,400 ha, 2,029,600 ha footprint

“Cities are among the brightest stars in the constellation of human achievement. At the same time, ecological footprint analysis shows that they act as entropic black holes, sweeping up the output of whole regions of the ecosphere vastly larger than themselves.” (Rees and Wackernagel 1996, Environmental Impact Assessment Review 16:223-248)