Biotic and abiotic effects of human settlements in the wildland-urban interface

Avi Bar-Massada, Volker C. Radeloff, Susan I. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The wildland-urban interface (WUI) is the area in which human settlements adjoin or intermix with ecosystems. Although research on the WUI has been focused on wildfire risk to settlements, we argue here that there is a need to quantify the extent of areas in which human settlements interact with adjoining ecosystems, regardless of their ability to support fire spread. Besides wildfires, human settlements affect neighboring ecosystems through biotic processes, including exotic species introduction, wildlife subsidization, disease transfer, landcover conversion, fragmentation, and habitat loss. The effects of WUI settlements on ecosystems are two tiered, starting with habitat modification and fragmentation and progressing to various diffusion processes in which direct and indirect effects of anthropogenic activities spread into neighboring ecosystems at varying scales. New scientific, management, and policy tools are needed in order to better understand the WUI as a unique social-ecological zone and to mitigate negative consequences of its continued growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-437
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • fire
  • fragmentation
  • invasive species
  • wildland-urban interface
  • wildlife

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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