Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

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.

Related items

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

LATEST HEADLINES

Subscribe to Geographical!

Adventure Canada

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

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

  • National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Polar

Celebrate World Penguin Day with this selection of penguin-related stories…

Geophoto

It takes a lot more than the latest research data…

Wildlife

NGOs shine a light on the underreporting of wildlife crime…

Wildlife

Pioneering laser photography is being used by scientists on the…

Geophoto

Annual competition looks to celebrate island life in all its…

Oceans

Increasing interest in offshore aquaculture is dividing environmentalists

Energy

Well-meaning promises don’t always have positive outcomes. Marco Magrini finds…

Wildlife

The RSPB introduces a new hotline for reporting the unlawful…

Wildlife

With the death earlier this week of the world’s last…

Geophoto

The essence of street photography is its raw, unfiltered, unstaged…

Energy

For Marco Magrini, a tax on fossil fuels would be…

Wildlife

Half of animal species in world’s most biodiverse areas could…

Wildlife

Four-year project to reestablish safe breeding grounds for seabirds on…

Wildlife

First global atlas of soil bacteria reveals a small minority…

Polar

Scientists discover how shrubs are dominating the Arctic tundra

Wildlife

War and conservation have a complicated relationship, with two studies…

Climate

Why is Europe so cold right now? Marco Magrini suggests…

Wildlife

Threatened Californian owls are suffering from digesting rat poison administered…

Oceans

With the majority of the ocean still remaining undiscovered, a…

Oceans

Belize bans offshore oil extraction to protect the second longest…