Starting in the mid-1990s, ecologists began thinking about urban lands as ecosystems (pretty drastically changed ecosystems, but still…). Since then, our understanding of how plants and animals in cities interact has expanded, though we certainly haven’t learned everything. Some key themes in urban ecology include:
Patches and parks–research has demonstrated the habitat value of even small (backyard-sized) patches and parks. These often-overlooked places can provide food and shelter for all kinds of animals and insects, whether they’re from the Pacific Northwest or just passing through. The Backyard Habitat Certification Program is a home-grown organization advocating for these little patches across the Lower Willamette Valley.
Human introduction–many invasive plants have been introduced by well-meaning gardeners. Many of our member organizations have outreach programs that help homeowners know which plants to be wary of.
Cities as transit points–given the number of outdoor enthusiasts in our cities and towns, the rest of Oregon and SW Washington look to cities to control their own invasive species…so everyone else doesn’t have to!