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) Wall lizard (Podarcis muralis, photo: J. Beninde). (f) Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia, photo: J. Tella). (g) Black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus, photo: E. Tassone). (h) Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus, photo: L. Elliot). (i) False brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum, photo: K. Morse). (j) Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidaries, photo: Creative Commons). (k) House sparrow (Passer domesticus, photo: M. Ravinet).


Many people don’t think of cities as great places for wildlife, but maybe you have you seen some of these common plants and animals in the city? It comes as a surprise to a lot of people that many organisms thrive in cities. The organisms above are just some of the many examples that have been part of this recent explosion of research on evolution in urban areas worldwide.

For decades, research has focused on ecology in urban environments. Biologists have information on whether these organisms have increased or decreased abundances, changes in behavior, and even changes in physiology. However, we know relatively little about how these species are changing in the face of rapid urbanization. The burgeoning field of urban evolution is starting to change that as researchers are asking how animals persist in cities and what role adaptive evolution plays.

Recently, the Proceedings of the Royal Society B hosted a Special Feature entitled ‘The evolution of city life‘, guest edited by James S. Santangelo, L. Ruth Rivkin and Marc T. J. Johnson from the University of Toronto. James, Ruth, and Marc assembled an impressive team of scientists from around the world to contribute their work on a broad range of evolutionary questions in urban ecosystems. The 15 articles in this special feature represent the leading edge of urban evolutionary biology and address many gaps in our knowledge, laying out an exciting roadmap for the future of urban evolution studies!

You can read all of the articles in this special issue for free. We will also be covering each of the papers in the special issue here on the blog over the next few weeks, so check back to get the summary version of each.

Table of Contents:

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