From: Yale Environment 360
Published November 3, 2017 10:26 AM

Urban-Based Evolution: Species Are Rapidly Adapting to City Habitats

Cities around the globe are fueling evolution among microbes, plants, and animals, driving physical mutations and altering gene flow, according to a new analysis in the journal Science. The projected spread of urbanization in coming decades will continue to reshape and create new species in unexpected ways, the study found.

“Urbanization represents the best and largest-scale unintended evolution experiment,” write Marc Johnson of the University of Toronto, Mississauga, and Jason Munshi-South of Fordham University, the authors of the new analysis.

In Tucson, Arizona, for example, house finches have developed longer and wider beaks than their rural counterparts to more easily consume sunflower seeds in bird feeders. In Puerto Rican cities, lizards’ toes have evolved to grip and move more easily on artificial surfaces, like concrete or brick. Several studies have also shown that urban pollution can increase mutation rates of DNA in birds and mammals. A new species of mosquito appears to be emerging that survives underground in sewers and subways.

Continue reading at Yale Environment 360

Image: Peregrine Falcons have adapted to nesting on skyscraper ledges and bridges, such as the Throgs Neck Bridge in New York City (pictured).  MTA / PATRICK CASHIN

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