Hypotheses in urban ecology: building a common knowledge base

Sophie Lokatis, Jonathan M. Jeschke, Maud Bernard-Verdier, Sascha Buchholz, Hans Peter Grossart, Frank Havemann, Franz Hölker, Yuval Itescu, Ingo Kowarik, Stephanie Kramer-Schadt, Daniel Mietchen, Camille L. Musseau, Aimara Planillo, Conrad Schittko, Tanja M. Straka, Tina Heger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban ecology is a rapidly growing research field that has to keep pace with the pressing need to tackle the sustainability crisis. As an inherently multi-disciplinary field with close ties to practitioners and administrators, research synthesis and knowledge transfer between those different stakeholders is crucial. Knowledge maps can enhance knowledge transfer and provide orientation to researchers as well as practitioners. A promising option for developing such knowledge maps is to create hypothesis networks, which structure existing hypotheses and aggregate them according to topics and research aims. Combining expert knowledge with information from the literature, we here identify 62 research hypotheses used in urban ecology and link them in such a network. Our network clusters hypotheses into four distinct themes: (i) Urban species traits & evolution, (ii) Urban biotic communities, (iii) Urban habitats and (iv) Urban ecosystems. We discuss the potentials and limitations of this approach. All information is openly provided as part of an extendable Wikidata project, and we invite researchers, practitioners and others interested in urban ecology to contribute additional hypotheses, as well as comment and add to the existing ones. The hypothesis network and Wikidata project form a first step towards a knowledge base for urban ecology, which can be expanded and curated to benefit both practitioners and researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1530-1547
Number of pages18
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Biological Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Cambridge Philosophical Society.


  • Wikidata
  • conceptual network
  • ecological theory
  • hypothesis network
  • knowledge visualisation
  • map of science
  • research synthesis
  • urban biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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