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UW’s Marina Alberti to lead new NSF-funded research network to study impact of cities on Earth’s evolutionary dynamics

Published on November 29, 2018

Sea gull perched on metal chain hanging in an urban area
Bird City Yamashita Park Sea Gull Town Hikawa Maru Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain: Maxpixel:

Here in what is called the Anthropocene era, humans and our urban environments appear to be driving accelerated evolutionary change in plants, animals, fungi, viruses and more — changes that could affect key ecosystem functions and thus human well-being. These interactions between evolution and ecology are called “eco-evolutionary feedback.”

The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $500,000 grant to a multi-institution research network team headed by Marina Alberti, University of Washington Professor in the Department of Urban Design and Planning, to advance understanding of these global eco-evolutionary dynamics.

Alberti is the author or co-author of several papers on the emerging topic, as well as a 2016 book, “Cities that Think Like Planets: Complexity, Resilience, and Innovation in Hybrid Ecosystems” (UW Press).

“Cities are microcosms of the evolutionary changes that are occurring on a planetary scale,” Alberti writes in the grant statement, “and thus provide a natural laboratory to advance our understanding of eco-evolutionary dynamics in a rapidly urbanizing world and generate new insights for maintaining biodiversity.”

Continue reading at UW News


Originally posted on UW News by Peter Kelley
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