Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
David G. Casagrande
Urban ecology is the study of humans and non-human organisms in urban areas, their interaction with their surroundings, and their reactions to environmental change. Anthropologists use theories, principles, or methods developed by ecologists to study how past cities arose, how current cities develop and change, and the effects of urban environments on people. Archaeologists often use ecological theory to explain how relationships between humans and their environment have evolved, leading to urbanization. These theories are based on Thomas Malthus' proposition that human population always tends to increase unless checked by some force. The British archaeologist V. Gordon Childe argued that the birth of agriculture led to surplus food and sedentism (people remaining in a fixed area). This allowed more people to specialize in crafts, arts, or political functions, and socioeconomic differences among people are more pronounced in ancient cities than in rural archaeological sites. In the 1950s, cultural evolutionists such ...