Welcome to the Urban Ecosystems Call for Papers

– Guest Editors –

Gina Cavan

Mary Cadenasso

Mariana Mayer-Pinto

Chris Lepczyk

– Call for papers for a PLOS ONE Collection –


In collaboration with our team of Guest Editors, PLOS ONE is calling for submissions spanning the intersection of ecological, climatological, and sociological patterns and processes within urban systems. Urbanisation is a key aspect of anthropogenic global change in the 21st century, and understanding its impacts is a critical challenge for contemporary science.

Urban ecosystems occur at the nexus between urbanisation, microclimate, natural resources, organisms and human societies, and PLOS ONE recognises the significance of research that makes connections across these dynamic and complex systems. From the effects of urbanisation on the ecology of urban biota to the social benefits of urban biodiversity, and from the influence of the built environment on global climate change to innovation in microclimatic monitoring, this call for papers aims to bring together diverse perspectives on the physical, biological and social functioning of urban ecosystems.

We particularly welcome primary research submissions that span the interface between urban climate, biogeochemistry, ecology and sociology, contributions which report analyses of long-term datasets or monitoring projects, manuscripts which compare effects across various cities or urban environments, and papers which incorporate innovative methodologies.

Articles must be submitted by July 26, 2019 and accepted submissions will be published in an Urban Ecosystems Collection in late 2019.

Example topics:

  • Physiological, ecological and behavioural adjustments of species for living in cities.
  • The role of cities as a source of invasive species and/or wildlife diseases.
  • The intersection of social and ecological phenomena in the urban context.
  • Ecological consequences of habitat fragmentation and replacement by urban habitats.
  • Comparative studies along the urbanization gradient and/or across different urban locations.
  • Urban environmental education and societal benefits of urban biodiversity for urban residents.
  • The impact of urban climate on urban ecology.
  • Atmospheric changes in urban environments and their effect on larger-scale processes of climate, meteorology and ecology.
  • Environmental disaster risk preparedness and/or risk reduction in urban settings.
  • Resource management for urban environments.
  • Urban planning strategies aimed to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
  • The effect of urban greenspace on urban climate and ecology.
  • Long-term studies on urban ecology or urban climate.


Papers illustrating the Collection scope

Ossola A, Hopton ME. Climate differentiates forest structure across a residential macrosystem. Science of the Total Environment. 2018; 639:1164–74

Kutzner RD, Schneidemesser EV, Kuik F, Quedenau J, Weatherhead EC, Schmale J. Long-term monitoring of black carbon across Germany. Atmospheric Environment. 2018; 185:41–52

Hood C, MacKenzie I, Stocker J, Johnson K, Carruthers D, Vieno M et al. Air quality simulations for London using a coupled regional-to-local modelling system. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 2018;18(15):11221-11245.

Li H, Meier F, Lee X, Chakraborty T, Liu J, Schaap M et al. Interaction between urban heat island and urban pollution island during summer in Berlin. Science of The Total Environment. 2018;636:818-828.

Korpilo S, Jalkanen J, Virtanen T, Lehvävirta S (2018) Where are the hotspots and coldspots of landscape values, visitor use and biodiversity in an urban forest? PLoS ONE 13(9): e0203611.

Mueller MA, Drake D, Allen ML (2018) Coexistence of coyotes (Canis latrans) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in an urban landscape. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0190971.

Hosaka T, Sugimoto K, Numata S (2017) Effects of childhood experience with nature on tolerance of urban residents toward hornets and wild boars in Japan. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0175243.

Mach BM, Potter DA (2018) Quantifying bee assemblages and attractiveness of flowering woody landscape plants for urban pollinator conservation. PLoS ONE 13(12): e0208428.

Wang Wei J, Lee BPY-H, Bing Wen L (2016) Citizen Science and the Urban Ecology of Birds and Butterflies — A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0156425.

Meet the Editors

Guest Editors

Gina Cavan

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE 

Dr Gina Cavan is Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, where she is Deputy Director of the Ecology and Environment Research Centre. She received her PhD from University of Manchester, where she subsequently worked as a post-doctoral researcher for three years.


Gina’s research addresses global challenges persistent in urban environments such as rapid urbanisation, degraded ecosystems, climate change, and social justice, through three interlinked themes: applied climatology, urban ecosystems, and urban climate adaptation planning. Her research emphasises interdisciplinary approaches, usually incorporating application of geographical information systems (GIS), and seeks to promote impactful research that influences policy and practice.


Mary Cadenasso

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE 

Mary Cadenasso is a Professor of Landscape and Urban Ecology in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. She earned her Ph.D. in ecology from Rutgers University in New Jersey, worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, and was a visiting scholar at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences before joining the faculty at UC Davis. Her research links landscape pattern to ecosystem processes and aims to understanding how human activities alter that link. She is a founding member of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study and the developer of HERCULES, a novel land cover model for urban systems. Her research approach spans scales from soil and plant biogeochemistry, to plant community dynamics, to landscape patterns and change. Her research also spans systems and she currently works in the oak savannas and grasslands of California, the metropolitan regions of Sacramento and Baltimore, and the montane and alpine regions of the Sierra Nevada. She teaches Urban Ecology, Urban Forestry, and Landscapes and Ecosystems to graduate and undergraduate students at UC Davis. She has published more than 80 peer reviewed journal articles, 25 book chapters and 4 co-authored or edited books.

Mariana Mayer-Pinto

Guest Editor, PLOS ONE 

Mariana Mayer-Pinto is a Scientia Fellow in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She obtained her PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Sydney, 2009 and holds a MSc in Zoology from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Prior to the commencement of her academic career in UNSW in 2013, she worked as a private consultant, leading the data analyses of one of the biggest environmental projects in Australia (Gorgon Project, Chevron).


Her research integrates theoretical and applied ecology to gain mechanistic understanding of the effects of multiple stressors (e.g. urbanisation, contamination) on the structure and functioning of marine communities, and to provide practical solutions to environmental problems (e.g. via ecological engineering). She has worked in tropical and temperate systems and her work is mostly experimental. Her research has generated new insight critical to inform the successful conservation and management of coastal systems.


Chris Lepczyk

Guest Editor and Academic Editor, PLOS ONE 

Chris Lepczyk is a Professor of Wildlife and Conservation at Auburn University. He is a broadly trained scientist, having received his BS at Hope College with a dual major in Biology and Geology and a minor in Chemistry, an MS in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and a dual PhD in Fisheries and Wildlife, and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior from Michigan State University. He takes an interdisciplinary research approach addressing questions aimed at conserving, restoring, and managing species and landscapes. His studies integrate aspects of ecology, ornithology, geography, sociology, demography, economics, policy, and citizen science. Chris has been a PLOS ONE Academic Editor since 2014.

Handling Editors

Luciano Andrade Moreira Maura Geraldine Chapman Robert F. Baldwin Vanesa Magar
Richard Paul* Luitgard Schwendenmann Daniel Becker  Katherine Dafforn
David Lewis Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles Iglesias Michael Sears Joao Canário
Frank H Koch Changshan Wu Carla Ng Christopher Somers
Julian Aherne* Zhihua Zhang Jürgen Kurths Jeffrey Shaman
Zhihua Wang* Andrew Rate Stoyan Nedkov Tina Heger*
Hans Dam Hamideh Nouri Karen Root Gurpal Toor
Miguel Lopez-Ferber Steven Loiselle Ismael Kimirei Ana Bugnot
Olga Cristina Pastor Nunes Nicolas Roche Fei Li Ashraf Dewan
Ali Kharrazi Oliver Gruebner Mingxing Chen Monjur Mourshed
Asim Zia Dejan Dragan Bing Xue* Manuel Wolff
Jorge Ramón López-Olvera Eda Ustaoglu Paul Leisnham

* Also acting as a Preprint Editor, searching relevant preprint servers and inviting suitable manuscripts to PLOS ONE with a guarantee of peer review.

Publishing Process

We aim to be as transparent as possible about our publishing and peer review processes. Papers submitted to PLOS ONE and under consideration for the Urban Ecosystems Collection will be specially handled by hand-selected active researchers from our Editorial Board working in urban ecosystems research, in partnership with PLOS ONE Staff Editors Jamie Males, Hanna Landenmark, and Miquel Vall-Ilosera Camps.

For more information please see the PLOS ONE Editorial and Peer Review Information page

Submission Instructions

Articles must be submitted by July 26, 2019. 

Are you ready to submit or want to learn more about how the submission process works? To make it as easy as possible for our communities, we have all of our submission instructions posted online. If there are any details you can’t find, please email us at

When submitting to the Collection, select the Article Type “Research Article” and enter “Urban Ecosystems” in the Collections field in the Additional Information section of the submission form. Please also specify that you are submitting to the Collection “Urban Ecosystems” in your cover letter.

Highly Cited PLOS Papers in Urban Ecosystems Research

Integrative assessment of climate change for fast-growing urban areas: Measurement and recommendations for future research

Authors: Sebastian Scheuer, Dagmar Haase, Martin Volk

Published: December 12, 2017

Likeability of Garden Birds: Importance of Species Knowledge & Richness in Connecting People to Nature

Authors: Daniel T. C. Cox, Kevin J. Gaston

Published: November 11, 2015

Warming and drought combine to increase pest insect fitness on urban trees

Authors: Adam G. Dale, Steven D. Frank

Published: March 9, 2017

A Heat Vulnerability Index: Spatial Patterns of Exposure, Sensitivity and Adaptive Capacity for Santiago de Chile

Authors: Luis Inostroza, Massimo Palme, Francisco de la Barrera

Published: September 8, 2016


Potential Impacts of Future Warming and Land Use Changes on Intra-Urban Heat Exposure in Houston, Texas

Authors: Kathryn Conlon, Andrew Monaghan, Mary Hayden, Olga Wilhelmi

Published: February 10, 2016


Effects of City Expansion on Heat Stress under Climate Change Conditions

Authors: Daniel Argüeso, Jason P. Evans, Andrew J. Pitman, Alejandro Di Luca

Published: February 10, 2015


Discerning Fragmentation Dynamics of Tropical Forest and Wetland during Reforestation, Urban Sprawl, and Policy Shifts

Authors: Qiong Gao, Mei Yu

Published: November 19, 2014


Trees Grow on Money: Urban Tree Canopy Cover and Environmental Justice

Authors: Kirsten Schwarz, Michail Fragkias, Christopher G. Boone, Weiqi Zhou, Melissa McHale, J. Morgan Grove, Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne, Joseph P. McFadden, Geoffrey L. Buckley, Dan Childers, Laura Ogden, Stephanie Pincetl, Diane Pataki, Ali Whitmer, Mary L. Cadenasso

Published: April 1, 2015


Learn About PLOS

We’ve been around over 15 years now. Learn about our history, what we’re doing now, and the ways in which we’re working hard to change publishing for the better for scientists and for science.