A new framework for urban ecology: an integration of proximate and ultimate responses to anthropogenic change

Ouyang, J. Q., Isaksson, C., Schmidt, C., Hutton, P., Bonier, F. and Dominoni, D. (2018) A new framework for urban ecology: an integration of proximate and ultimate responses to anthropogenic change. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 58(5), pp. 915-928. (doi: 10.1093/icb/icy110) (PMID:30376106) (PMCID:PMC6204990)

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As urban areas continue to grow, understanding how species respond and adapt to urban habitats is becoming increasingly important. Knowledge of the mechanisms behind observed phenotypic changes of urban-dwelling animals will enable us to better evaluate the impact of urbanization on current and future generations of wildlife and predict how animals respond to novel environments. Recently, urban ecology has emerged not only as a means of understanding organismal adaptation but also as a framework for exploring mechanisms mediating evolutionary phenomena. Here, we have identified four important research topics that will advance the field of urban ecology and shed light on the proximate and ultimate causes of the phenotypic differences commonly seen among species and populations that vary in their responses to urbanization. First, we address the ecological and socio-economic factors that characterize cities, how they might interact with each other, and how they affect urban species. Second, we ask which are the proximate mechanisms underlying the emergence over time of novel traits in urban organisms, focusing on developmental effects. Third, we emphasize the importance of understanding the ultimate causations that link phenotypic shifts to function. This question highlights the need to quantify the strength and direction of selection that urban individuals are exposed to, and whether the phenotypic shifts associated with life in the city are adaptive. Lastly, we stress the need to translate how individual-level responses scale up to population dynamics. Understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of variation among populations and species in their responses to urbanization will unravel species resilience to environmental perturbation, which will facilitate predictive models for sustainability and development of green cities that maintain or even increase urban biodiversity and wildlife health and wellbeing.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB); the National Science Foundation (NSF OIA-1738594 to J.Q.O.); the National Institutes of Health (NIH-P20 GM103650 to J.Q.O.); and the Swedish Research Council (VR; C0361301 to C.I.).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Dominoni, Dr Davide
Authors: Ouyang, J. Q., Isaksson, C., Schmidt, C., Hutton, P., Bonier, F., and Dominoni, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Integrative and Comparative Biology
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1557-7023
Published Online:16 August 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Integrative and Comparative Biology 58(5): 915-928
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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