17:08 10 January 2017
Researchers have, for the first time, identified urbanisation in the evolution of organisms following the analysis of more than 1,600 cases around the globe. They said that such changes have implications for sustainability and could affect ecosystem services important to humans.
Currently, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas and the number is expected to further grow.
Co-author Marina Alberti from the University of Washington's Department of Urban Design and Planning. "We found that there is a clear urban signal of phenotypic change, and also greater phenotypic change in urbanising systems compared to natural or non-urban anthropogenic systems,"
"So urbanisation, globally, is clearly affecting things."
Prof Alberti observed: "The reason these changes are important is because they change ecosystem function, therefore they have implications for human well-being.
"This is because those changes affect, for example, biodiversity but also nutrient cycling, seed dispersal and water purification."
"There have been a lot of studies on individual cities but there had been no studies that considered the global picture to identify a global urbanisation influence on evolution," she added.
"We live on an urban planet already. This is a change that has implications for where we are heading in the future.
"We are changing the evolution of Earth and urbanisation has a role, a significant role, in that."
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