Rapid transitions in land use patterns are often very conspicuous in the process of urbanization: within the central European landscape, large urban areas have emerged within the past two centuries. By ignoring them as islands of unnatural, novel landscapes, traditional research on ecology and biodiversity did not predict that numerous mammalian wildlife species would invade, stay and flourish within urban areas, or that cities would emerge as biodiversity hotspots. We wanted to
- understand the effect and spatial reach of matrix heterogeneity and configuration,
- measure the temporal dynamics of urban landscapes to reveal effects of landuse legacy, historical connectivity and current land use,
- identify key functional traits of successful species that meet the challenges created by urban environments,
- explore the consequences of increased contact for both people and wildlife and
- highlight implications for managing and enhancing urban biodiversity.
We studied the endpoints of the trophic cascade (plants and mammalian wildlife) to elucidate the key drivers which encourage and limit urban biodiversity within the rural-urban gradient.