Monday, December 11, 2017

Wait, wait....don't clean that street gutter!

“In most cities, streets are designed for collecting and transporting dirt, litter, debris, storm water and other wastes as a municipal sanitation system. Microbial mats can develop on street surfaces and form microbial communities that have never been described. Here, we performed the first molecular inventory of the street gutter-associated eukaryotes across the entire French capital of Paris and the non-potable waters sources. We found that the 5782 OTUs (operational taxonomic units) present in the street gutters which are dominated by diatoms (photoautotrophs), fungi (heterotrophs), Alveolata and Rhizaria, includes parasites, consumers of phototrophs and epibionts that may regulate the dynamics of gutter mat microbial communities. Network analyses demonstrated that street microbiome present many species restricted to gutters, and an overlapping composition between the water sources used for street cleaning (for example, intra-urban aquatic networks and the associated rivers) and the gutters. We propose that street gutters, which can cover a significant surface area of cities worldwide, potentially have important ecological roles in the remediation of pollutants or downstream wastewater treatments, might also be a niche for growth and dissemination of putative parasite and pathogens.”

From: Aquatic urban ecology at the scale of a capital: community structure and interactions in street gutters

by Vincent Hervé, Boris Leroy, Albert Da Silva Pires & Pascal Jean Lopez
The ISME Journal 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Urban Bird Feeders Dominated by a Few Species and Individuals

“Our study highlights that individual and species-specific differences in feeder use are present within feeder-visiting bird communities, importantly demonstrating this across seasons within an urban system. These intraspecific and interspecific asymmetries support the likelihood of competitive interactions operating to regulate access to food, and suggest that the effects of supplementary feeding are unlikely to be equivalent across all birds within communities of feeder visitors. In New Zealand resource dominance by introduced species is particularly important, with negative outcomes for native species conservation in cities possible. Individual differences in feeder use observed here are likely to affect the population-level impacts of bird feeding, and consequently should be considered in future studies of garden bird feeding.”

"Urban Bird Feeders Dominated by a Few Species and Individuals"
Josie A. Galbraith, Darryl N. Jones, Jacqueline R. Beggs, Katharina Parry and Margaret C. Stanley

Front. Ecol. Evol., 02 August 2017 |

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Urban shrapnel: spatial distribution of non-productive space


“Urbanisation is characterised by cycles of activation and obsolescence leaving in their wake an abundance of non-productive space (NPS). Expanding cities report more vacant land than do fixed cities, which report higher structural abandonment. If left untreated, existing NPS can spread to surrounding properties. Using Fort Worth, TX, USA as a case site, this research explores the spatial distribution of NPS using Geographical Information Systems spatial analyses. Directional distributions, time series analyses, spatial assessments using 5-mile buffer increments and weighted suitability models were combined to determine if urban core fragmentation is occurring, despite population and economic growth. Findings indicate that peripheral NPS area decreased but these spaces were redistributed into the urban core. Parcel size and regeneration potential in the city centre also decreased. This has resulted in a fragmented urban core characterised by disconnected and small/irregularly shaped parcels of NPS which are difficult to regenerate—an urban shrapnel.”

Authors: Galen Newman ORCID Icon & Boah Kim
Published through Landscape Research, Journal; Pages 699-715 | Published online: 20 Aug 2017
Volume 42, 2017 - Issue 7: Shrinking Cities: Rethinking landscape in depopulating urban contexts

Available at

Monday, October 30, 2017

Socioecosystems, part II

The following table, developed by Kowarik (2011), features the main urban drivers of plant and animal adaptations to city environments. The impacts of habitat fragmentation, pollutants, and disturbance in cities are well documented. But the emergence of research on novel habitats paint the possibilities of new urban ecosystems in the making. Life continues to adapt to the harshest of environmental conditions.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Socioecosystems (Grimm)

"There is an increasing body of evidence that urban land uses effect profound changes in all environmental components and that humans are the main drivers of change (Sukopp et al., 1979; Gilbert, 1989; Pickett et al., 2001; Alberti et al., 2003), thus leading to the idea of addressing cities as “socioecosystems” (Grimm et al., 2008)"

--Ingo Kowarik, "Novel urban ecosystems, biodiversity, and conservation", Environmental Pollution 159 (2011) 1974-1983

This interesting chart below by Kowarik (2011) identifies the urban drivers of biodiversity through landscape practices--including income levels of a neighborhood, available ornamental types, management, and propagule dispersal. How does your neighborhood fare?