JAN 18, 2017 06:43 AM PST

Urbanization Appears to be a Driving Force for Animal Evolution

The world around us is changing, and a lot of that has to do with our very own hand. If you were to compare the world now to what it was like just a few centuries ago, you would notice a huge difference in the development of land and the creatures that inhabited it.

That said, we’re changing the world through the course of urbanization, and due to that, the animals around us are having to change too, just to adapt. These findings appear in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Are urban city landscapes like this one forcing animals who inhabit them to evolve to cope in these new environments?

Image Credit: Unsplash/Pixabay

In this study, researchers took a close look at more than 1,600 plant and animal species around the world and found that urbanization may be invoking evolution of some sort.

As you can probably deduce from this theory, coping with the city life, rather than living in dense forests and other wild terrains, is quite the change. Survival in these completely different landscapes becomes harder for animals that are built to survive in the wild, so to survive, natural selection causes these species to change for the better.

“We found a clear urban signal of phenotypic change – and greater phenotypic change in urbanizing systems compared to natural and non-urban anthropogenic, or human-created systems,” lead author, Marina Alberti, from the University of Washington said.

“By explicitly linking urban development to heritable traits that affect ecosystem function, we can begin to map the implications of human-induced trait changes for ecological and human well-being.”

In addition to the changing of several types of species over time, the researchers also point out that urbanization also extinguishes some species; namely those that don’t perform well in urbanized landscapes. That said, the decline of a number of species that are designed to thrive in wide-open wilderness may continue, despite even our hardest attempts to keep them around.

Our changes to the world may have a major impact on the delicate ecosystem that makes up the world around us, including knocking an imbalance in the fragile cycles of the wilderness.

The authors conclude with the statement that humans are the single largest driving force of evolution on the planet, even for other animal species:

“Now, however, we have a completely different view. Rapid evolution is occurring all around us all the time. Many of the most extreme examples of rapid evolution are associated with human influences, leading to the oft-repeated assertion that humans are ‘the world’s greatest evolutionary force.'”

Source: University of Washington

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 09, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 09, 2018
Crows Found to Instigate Fights with Ravens
Crows and ravens are both black birds, but that’s about where the similarities end. The two birds are notorious for clashing with one another in the...
JUL 30, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 30, 2018
10th Critically-Endangered Black Rhino Dies in Kenya Following Habitat Transfer
Kenya’s Wildlife Services (KWS) are under a magnifying glass this week after a tenth black rhino has died amid attempts to relocate a handful of the...
AUG 15, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 15, 2018
Even Newer Pesticides Threaten Bees, Study Finds
Bees and other vital pollinators have experienced significant population declines in the face of widespread pesticide usage, especially in the case of neon...
AUG 22, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 22, 2018
Some Macaws Blush In Response to Affection, Others Ruffle Their Feathers
Parrots are some of the most popular pets for bird lovers, and while their intelligence is widely-recognized, that hasn’t stopped acclaimed researche...
AUG 27, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 27, 2018
'Antennal-Grabbing' Courtship Behavior Observed in More Types of Cuckoo Bees
Most insect enthusiasts already know that antennal grabbing behavior is a somewhat common trait among Hymenoptera during copulation. But that doesn’t...
SEP 04, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 04, 2018
Can We Streamline the Head-Starting Process for Georgia's Gopher Tortoises?
In the world of animal conservation, head-starting is a technique used by experts to prevent threatened species from inching closer to extinction. This pro...
Loading Comments...