Surviving in the city

ARCUE is working to understand how plants and animals adapt to urban life. Credit: Janusz Molinski/Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
ARCUE is working to understand how plants and animals adapt to urban life. Credit: Janusz Molinski/Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Why do some plant and animal species thrive in the city while others disappear?

Most ecological studies are done in natural environments not in towns and cities so we lack information on urban ecology.

A team from Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens is changing that.

They’ve been exploring a wide range of issues including:

  • how to design wildlife tunnels and bridges to reduce wildlife road deaths
  • how traffic noise affects birds in roadside habitats
  • how the pitch at which frogs croak changes in cities
  • why flying foxes have spread into urban Melbourne
  • the importance to wildlife of leaf litter in urban parks and gardens.

Our cities are growing. And over 60 per cent of the world’s population will be living in urban settlements by 2025. So we need to know just what’s happening if we are to preserve and restore urban biodiversity and maintain ecosystem services in order to create green, healthy cities and towns.

The research team is based at the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE), and staff members Dr Mark McDonnell and Dr Amy Hahs have recently co-edited (with Dr Jürgen Breuste) a book Ecology of Cities and Towns, published by Cambridge University Press.

For more information: Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Mark McDonnell, Tel: +61 (3) 8344 0117, markmc@unimelb.edu.au, arcue.botany.unimelb.edu.au

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