Daylight at night – the consequences of a world without darkness

We don’t tend to think of artificial light in terms of pollution. Most often it’s something positive; it helps us find our way around the house after dark, lets us read signs along the roads during night-time drives, and makes us feel safer while walking through cities at night. But the problem with our increasingly illuminated lifestyle is that we’re inadvertently messing with nature’s sensitive regulation systems, all fine-tuned by millions of years of evolution.

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Permanent urban resident edges out an urban newcomer

For many animals, life in the city is no easy task. However, some animals are able to exploit the features of the city and resulting in larger body sizes and more reproductive advantages compared to forest populations. Read more to find out whether a permanent urban resident and an urban newcomer both gain these advantages in the city.

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Alien Plants in Urban Landscapes

Alien plant species, or non-native plant species, provide positive benefits, such as improving aesthetics and contributing to local food production. However, these species can also have negative effects on urban landscape by producing allergy-inducing pollen and taking over habitat from native species. In order to effectively manage urban landscapes, more research is needed on the positive and negative impacts of alien plant species.

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Birds evolve bigger beaks thanks to backyard feeders

Echoing Charles Darwin’s study of Galapagos finches, biologists in Great Britain have found that the size of birds’ beaks is adapted to help them eat certain types of food. But unlike Darwin’s finches, the British food sources influencing bird evolution aren’t natural features of the environment. They’re backyard bird feeders.

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How much does pollution increase as cities grow?

People worldwide are increasingly living in cities. Urban life has many benefits including economic growth, but large concentrations of people and their activities can lead to increased pollution. A recent study evaluated the trade-offs between pollution and urbanization to see if the economic benefits outweigh the negative health impacts.

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Betcha won’t drink it! The natural chemicals hiding in water, and how a new technique hopes to remove them using an unlikely ally- bacteria

The amount of natural organic matter, or NOM, in water has been increasing for the past 20 years and is expected to increase. Higher amounts of NOM mean more expensive clean water- a high priority especially when considering communities at risk for clean water shortages due to storms. Environmental engineers work on ways to reduce NOM effectively in drinking water treatment plants, and sometimes, this means making unusual allies: bacteria.

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Connecting to nature and understanding ecosystem services: the urban perspective

Food and water – two resources vital for life on Earth. These are two prime examples of the products that arise from ecosystem services. There are four broad categories of ecosystem services: provisioning regulating, supporting, and cultural. Food and water are a form of ecosystem service provisioning – these are the products that directly benefit humans. Globalization and climate change are increasingly threatening food and water security, and other vital ecosystem services throughout the world.

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Fat and happy in the city

Wildlife may not always struggle when living in the city. For example, many birds and mammals benefit from access to human food and in some cases, encounter fewer predators in the city. Learning more about how wildlife deals with life in the city can help us learn what features of the city benefit or harm different species. Eastern chipmunks are abundant in both forest and urban habitats making them a suitable species to study to determine whether populations living in the city do better or worse. Researchers found that chipmunks in the city were fatter than forest chipmunks and less stressed, highlighting how some animals can thrive because of urbanization.

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