Wild cities: Bringing animal conservation closer to home

The grey-headed flying fox thrives in Australia’s urban environs but not all species adapt so well The grey-headed flying fox thrives in Australia’s urban environs but not all species adapt so well Kate Hofmeister
08 Feb
2016
New findings highlight the impact of cities when it comes to threatened species conservation

Conservation is something normally thought of as taking place far away from urban environments, in distant places where animal species are threatened. But should efforts focus a little closer to home? That’s the suggestion being made by a team of Australian environmental scientists. ‘Our research suggests that actions taken to protect threatened species in cities might return better outcomes than focusing on less disturbed ecosystems,’ says co-lead author Christopher Ives, a Research Fellow at RMIT University, Melbourne, at the time of the study. Ives undertook a survey of 1,643 threatened species within 99 Australian cities. With 30 per cent of threatened species found in cities covering only 0.23 per cent of the land area, urban areas supported a greater number of threatened species than non-urban areas.

‘Many species favour the same environmental conditions that make human settlement attractive, such as productive soils and regular rainfall,’ explains Ives. The study highlights several species (such as the grey headed flying fox) which thrive in urban environments. ‘Some human activities, such as watering gardens and planting trees with abundant fruit and flowers, can make cities sources of supplementary food and water resources,’ Ives says. ‘However, it’s possible that more threatened species are found in cities because urbanisation is a key threatening process.’

Ives also admits that the conclusions may be more applicable to countries that have experienced significant land use change, such as Australia or the USA. ‘The patterns may not be as evident in the UK given its long history of intense human land use, but would likely apply in areas where new urban development is displacing green space,’ he says. ‘In any case, the fact that species of conservation concern can exist in close proximity to people is a finding likely to be applicable to many cities around the world.’

This article was published in the February 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Enjoy this article? Spread the word...

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to Twitter

Related items

Leave a comment

ONLY registered members can leave comments and each comment is held pending authorisation before publishing. Please login or register to voice your opinion.

KEEP UP TO DATE

Never miss the news. Keep up to date with Geographical News update emails.

Sign up today and receive our special offer

signup1

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

MaltaUni300x100UniOfHertsBuilding300x100StAndrewsUniBuildingLogo300x100

TRAVEL PARTNERS

CoxKing300x100

Intrepid300x100

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Money Trail
    Remittance payments are a fundamental, yet often overlooked, part of the global economy. But the impact on nations receiving the money isn’t just a ...
    Dealing with drugs
    While Ebola makes the headlines, a raft of unreported and under-researched diseases are responsible for far more deaths across Africa every year. But ...
    Growing pains
    Population levels are rising and nowhere is this felt more keenly than in the world’s megacities – urban sprawls that each house over ten million ...
    Mexico City: boom town
    Twenty years ago, Mexico City was considered the ultimate urban disaster. But, recent political and economic reforms have transformed it into a hub of...
    Alien views
    The tabloids would have us believe that immigrants are taking our houses, our jobs, our school places and our hospital beds. But a close reading of th...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories. Follow us on social media, we tweet snapshots of every article on Twitter and post our favourites on Facebook. Simply click on the buttons below to join us.

More articles in NATURE...

Wildlife

By setting fire to the world’s largest ever stockpile of…

Oceans

Bleaching sea anemones put clownfish species at risk

Oceans

The iconic Suez Canal now has a twin channel, likely…

Energy

Did coal power China’s great escape from poverty, or not?…

Wildlife

Conservation of threatened iconic species will be aided by the…

Geophoto

Their extraordinary colour, long hair and human-like expressions make orang-utans…

Wildlife

Thirty years on, the Chernobyl disaster still leaves a radioactive…

Wildlife

Geographical takes a look at the three newly discovered species…

Polar

Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…

Oceans

The surprise discovery of a 600-mile long coral reef at…

Oceans

The Twelve Apostles, a series of great limestone stacks along…

Wildlife

The world’s biggest library of bat sounds has been compiled…

Wildlife

Sara Mizzi of Elephant Family talks to Dr Ananda Kumar,…

Geophoto

April is when we feel winter is weakening its hold…

Oceans

An historic phenomenon explaining why fertile coral reefs form as…

Energy

A German energy firm has designed ‘Biogas backpacks’ in an…

Wildlife

How can we conserve species and biodiversity hotspots that haven’t…

Wildlife

A decade-long survey has shown that sperm whales in the…

Energy

Hydraulic fracturing – or ‘fracking’ – now accounts for more…

Energy

New figures show that one third of all coal mines…