Mar 31, 2019 Urban Wildlife
By any account, these are not good times for wild animals. Global climate change threatens many species (such as polar bears) with rapid habitat changes to which they might not be able to adapt. Poaching threatens many others, including the culturally significant rhinoceros and elephant and the less iconic but even more imperiled pangolin. World fisheries are near a point of collapse from overharvesting and unnecessary death awaits many animals as bycatch entrapped in nets or hooked on long-line rigs. Although we have had little information to date on direct human-caused mortality, recent research summarizing more than a thousand studies of 305 radio-collared species finds 28% of all deaths can be directly attributed to human action, 17% of these from hunting.[i] Less measurable, but undoubtedly far more numerous are deaths from vehicle collisions, impacts with glass on buildings, entombment and other deaths from land clearing for development, and poisoning by pesticides and other toxicants that humans repeatedly introduce into the environment.
[iv] A “novel” ecosystem is one that is created and influenced by human activities. A good review article is:
Evers, C. R., et al. (2018). The ecosystem services and biodiversity of novel ecosystems: A literature review. Global Ecology and Conservation, 13, e00362. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2017.e00362
[v] See, for example, Ives et al. (2016). Cities are hotspots for threatened species. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 25(1), 117-126. doi:10.1111/geb.12404
[vi] A number of technical articles can be found online by searching for urban evolution in google scholar. A very readable and comprehensive treatment of evolution cities is also to be found in Menno Schilthuizen’s 2018 book Darwin Comes to Town (NY: Picador).
[vii] The Biophilic Cities initiatives is spearheaded by professor Tim Beatley of the University of Virginia. His 2010 book Biophilic Cities (Washington: Island Press) is a good reference, as well as the Biophilic Cities website, biophiliccities.org.
[viii] Kellert, Stephen & E.O. Wilson. (1993). The Biophilia Hypothesis. Washington: Island Press.
[ix] There is a considerable literature that addresses this subject. A good review is: Brown, C., & Grant, M. (2005). Biodiversity and human health: What role for nature in healthy urban planning? Built Environment, 31(4), 326-338.
[x] The many components of which are nicely summarized in: Kellert, S. R., Heerwagen, J. H., & Mador, M. L. (eds.) (2008). Biophilic Design: The theory, science and practice of bringing buildings to life. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
[xi] Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods. New York, New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.