Unprecedented urban growth has markedly changed ecosystem structure, function, and biodiversity, and consequently the ecosystem services our health and wellbeing depend on. To improve urban sustainability, it is important to identify opportunities to manage cities for increased ecosystem service provision. This requires understanding urban areas as spatially heterogeneous and temporally dynamic ecosystems. This dissertation combines synthesis, observational, and experimental approaches to ask how landscape structure, historical land-use, and biodiversity impact multiple ecosystem services in urban landscapes. In chapter 1, I conducted a global meta-analysis focused explicitly on the underlying ecology of urban ecosystem services, centered on the role of biodiversity in service provision. The remaining chapters focus on Madison, WI, and consider how landscape context (Chapter 2, 4) and biological invasion (Chapter 3) may influence ecosystem services in a temperate, mid-size city.
Through meta-analysis, I showed that urban biodiversity-ecosystem service research would benefit from increasing the number and types of services assessed, broadening its geographical scope, and expanding types of biodiversity measured – including consideration of non-native species. Using empirical data, I assessed the effect of spatial and temporal context on ecosystem services in Madison, a historically agricultural urban landscape. By measuring biophysical indicators of three services (carbon storage, water quality regulation, runoff regulation), I showed that considering the full mosaic of urban greenspace and its history is needed to estimate the kinds and magnitude of ecosystem services in cities, and to augment regional assessments that may underestimate urban ecosystem service supply. Using a bicycle-mounted temperature sensor, I showed that impervious surfaces and canopy cover interact to affect summer air temperature, and that urban forest management provides a powerful lever to increase temperature regulation services. Understanding invasion-ecosystem service linkages is also important in urban ecosystems – where non-native species are common. I conducted reciprocal field experiments to test whether an incipient urban invader, the Asian jumping worm, might interact with an established invasive, common buckthorn, with consequences for ecosystem services. Contrary to the “invasional meltdown” hypothesis, I found no evidence of co-facilitation, with positive conservation implications. Overall, this research has implications for using urban landscape management to enhance ecosystem service provision.