Global distribution of urban ecosystems.
DECKER, E.H.* 1, B.T.MILNE 1, F.A.SMITH 1 and S.M.ELLIOTT 2
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131USA 1
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM USA 2
Because humans appropriate an enormous proportion of global resources and energy, understanding patterns and mechanisms of human population distribution is essential for addressing both ecological and social problems. Central Place Theory has been the dominant paradigm in human geography, but there has been very little ecological theory about processes that govern the distribution of urban areas. Here we analyze the distribution of cities globally using satellite and census data. We examine size-specific nearest neighbor distances, rank size distributions, and measures of spatial arrangement to quantify patterns of urban distribution. We then develop a theory for explaining these patterns in ecological and energetic terms that addresses the flow of material and energy through and among urban areas. We find that patterns of city distribution are general and global, and that energy considerations contribute greatly to explaining these patterns. Our results suggest that socioeconomic details are unnecessary for understanding macroscopic patterns of human settlements.
Keywords: urban ecology, human ecology, urban metabolism, macroecology
This abstract is being presented at: 8:00 AM in session:
Oral Session #39: Theoretical Ecology.