The Undergraduate’s Field Guide to Urban Ecology: Four Things You Should Know

Other posts here at Life in the City have covered the perils, issues, and occasional awkwardness of urban fieldwork from the perspective of the researcher, but have you considered how your naive undergraduate field technician is going to fare when thrown into the urban jungle? After going into the field now a couple of times... Continue Reading →


People Watching: the study of urban wildlife is a two-way street

My eyes are instinctively drawn to a black, blue, and snow white flurry of movement. A reflex hammer to my naturalist’s knee. The subject of my fascination springs a brisk two-footed hop-scotch, just ahead along a ribbon of green separating parking lot from bustling sidewalk in downtown Calgary. The throng of oncoming foot-traffic ignore the... Continue Reading →

Proc. B Special Issue: Can Random Processes Drive Parallel Evolutionary Responses to Cities?

Continuing our coverage of the recent Proc. B Special Issue on urban evolution, James Santangelo (PhD candidate at University of Toronto Mississauga) tells us about his recent manuscript: One of the outstanding questions in evolutionary biology concerns the extent to which different species — or different populations of a single species — evolve the same genes or... Continue Reading →

Tools of the Trade: the Net Gun

Collecting samples in urban environments can present some challenges (as Matt Combs describes in "The Good, The Bad, and The Smelly" and Jane Remfert describes in “Urban Residential Field Tip”). As someone working on pigeons in Northeastern cities, I’ve encountered problems while simply trying to collect my samples. Many ornithologists use mist nets, but these... Continue Reading →

Why Did the Squirrel Cross the Road?

In cities the number and types of predators drastically differ from nearby rural and "natural" areas. This often means that the biggest threat prey species have to face in cities are domestic predators (dogs and cats) or generalist "mesopredators" like raccoons, coyotes, or foxes. That is, unless you consider the threat from humans, and in... Continue Reading →

Proc B. Special Issue: Urban Hubs of Connectivity: Contrasting Patterns of Gene Flow Within and Among Cities in the Western Black Widow Spider

In my recent contribution to the special issue on urban evolution in Proceedings B, my co-authors and I share our findings on contrasting patterns of gene flow (paper here). This is one of several posts on the recent special issue on urban evolution in Proceedings B. Urbanization in the Western United States is significantly rapid... Continue Reading →

Wherefore and Whither the Non-urban Areas?

 Posted by: Brian C. Verrelli, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA The esteemed evolutionary biologist Douglas J. Futuyma once famously wondered “Wherefore and whither the naturalist?”  in pondering the role of naturalists and the future of natural history studies. It is hard to imagine one without the other. I could not help but think something similar in... Continue Reading →

Friendly Neighborhood Spiders

If you live in Europe or North America, chances are you have seen the species I have studied in my most recent paper at least once. The cross spider (Araneus diadematus) makes big beautiful orb webs, can easily be recognized by a cross-shaped white drawing on its abdomen, and you can find it pretty much... Continue Reading →

It’s Lit in the City

Night life in the city can be much brighter and artificial lighting can  be a significant source of new evolutionary directions for city dwellers. A recent study by Hopkins et al. (2018) researchers reviewed how Artificial Light At Night (ALAN) can drive evolutionary change in a theoretical population. How can artificial light at night (ALAN) drive evolution?... Continue Reading →

Special Feature in Proceedings B

Articles in the special feature used a diverse set of study organisms to explore the effects of urbanization on evolutionary patterns and processes. (a) Yellow jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens, photo: Wikimedia Commons). (b) Great tit (Parus major, photo: Wikimedia Commons). (c) Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia, photo: A. Butko). (d) Water flea (Daphnia magna, photo: J. Mergeay). (e)... Continue Reading →

Welcome to Our Blog!

Hello and welcome to our blog! Who we are: Life in the City is written and edited by scientists who study the impacts that urbanization has on evolutionary processes for species who live in or near cities. Founding editors are: Lindsay Miles (postdoc, University of Toronto), Elizabeth Carlen (PhD Candidate, Fordham University), and Kristin Winchell (postdoc,... Continue Reading →

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