1999 volume 26(4) pages 605 – 630

Cite as:
Alberti M, 1999, "Modeling the urban ecosystem: a conceptual framework" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 26(4) 605 – 630

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Modeling the urban ecosystem: a conceptual framework

M Alberti

Received 14 October 1998; in revised form 22 March 1999

Abstract. In this paper I build on current research in urban and ecological simulation modeling to develop a conceptual framework for modeling the urban ecosystem. Although important progress has been made in various areas of urban modeling, operational urban models are still primitive in terms of their ability to represent ecological processes. On the other hand, environmental models designed to assess the ecological impact of an urban region are limited in their ability to represent human systems. I present here a strategy to integrate these two lines of research into an urban ecological model (UEM). This model addresses the human dimension of the Puget Sound regional integrated simulation model (PRISM) -- a multidisciplinary initiative at the University of Washington aimed at developing a dynamic and integrated understanding of the environmental and human systems in the Puget Sound. UEM simulates the environmental pressures associated with human activities under alternative demographic, economic, policy, and environmental scenarios. The specific objectives of UEM are to: quantify the major sources of human-induced environmental stresses (such as land-cover changes and nutrient discharges); determine the spatial and temporal variability of human stressors in relation to changes in the biophysical structure; relate the biophysical impacts of these stressors to the variability and spatial heterogeneity in land uses, human activities, and management practices; and predict the changes in stressors in relation to changes in human factors.

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