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Elucidating the drivers, contextual sensitivity and resilience of urban ecological systems

Hale, James David (2015)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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As the global population urbanises, the benefits derived from contact with nature increasingly depend upon the presence of diverse urban ecological communities. These may be threatened by changes in land-cover and the intensification of land-use. A key question is how to design and manage cities to retain desirable species, habitats and processes. Addressing this question is challenging, due to the dominant role of humans in shaping spatially and temporally complex urban landscapes.

Earlier research identified ecological patterns along urban–rural gradients, often using simplified measures of built form and disturbance. The central theme within this thesis is that we require a more mechanistic understanding of the processes that created today‘s ecological patterns, which recognises the interactions between social and ecological sub-systems.

Using bats (Chiroptera) as a case study group, I identified a broadly negative association between bat activity and built density. Urban tree networks appeared beneficial for one species, and further work revealed that their role in facilitating movement depended upon the size of gaps in tree lines and their illumination level. Resilience analyses were used to map diverse dependencies between the functioning of urban bat habitats and human social factors; illustrating the value of a more mechanistic systems-based approach.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Sadler, Jon
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information:

Publications resulting from research:

HALE, J. D., FAIRBRASS, A. J., MATTHEWS, T. J. & SADLER, J. P. 2012. Habitat Composition and Connectivity Predicts Bat Presence and Activity at Foraging Sites in a Large UK Conurbation. PLoS ONE, 7, e33300.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033300

HALE, J. D. & SADLER, J. P. 2012. Resilient ecological solutions for urban regeneration. Engineering Sustainability, 165, 59-67.
DOI: 10.1680/ensu.2012.165.1.59

HALE, J. D., DAVIES, G., FAIRBRASS, A. J., MATTHEWS, T. J., ROGERS, C. D. & SADLER, J. P. 2013. Mapping lightscapes: spatial patterning of artificial lighting in an urban landscape. PloS ONE, 8, e61460.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061460

HALE, J. D., FAIRBRASS, A. J., MATTHEWS, T. J., DAVIES, G. & SADLER, J. P. 2015. The ecological impact of city lighting scenarios: exploring gap crossing thresholds for urban bats. Global Change Biology
DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12884

HALE, J., PUGH, T., SADLER, J., BOYKO, C., BROWN, J., CAPUTO, S., CASERIO, M., COLES, R., FARMANI, R., HALES, C., HORSEY, R., HUNT, D., LEACH, J., ROGERS, C. & MACKENZIE, A. 2015. Delivering a Multi-Functional and Resilient Urban Forest. Sustainability, 7, 4600-4624.

Subjects:GE Environmental Sciences
GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
QB Astronomy
QL Zoology
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:6238
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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