Feb 17, 2021

Erica Spotswood and a team of scientists have established a new perspective on cities and nature, identifying the ways cities can contribute to regional biodiversity conservation. "The Biological Deserts Fallacy: Cities in Their Landscapes Contribute More than We Think to Regional Biodiversity" was published in the journal BioScience. Writer Eric Simons discusses the article in the Bay Nature story What a City Can Do for Nature.

We investigated how cities interact with their surrounding landscapes, and the species that benefit from living in or near cities. We found substantial evidence that many species can and do benefit from cities, and we identify five ways these benefits can occur. For example, because cities are very different from their surrounding landscapes, they can provide resources at unique times, and some species move back and forth from urban to rural to track changing resource availability. Cities are also warmer than their surroundings, and there is already evidence from several species that adaptation to warmer environments may pre-adapt some species to climate change. 

This is not to say cities are all good for biodiversity -- we know there are many species that are harmed by urbanization. Rather, we argue that a strong emphasis on the negative impacts of urbanization has made us miss the story of why and how species do well in cities, and what that can teach us about how to make cities better. 

For more information contact Erica Spotswood, [email protected]

Follow this link to download the article.

Bay Nature story

BioScience article

Other Contributors: 
Erin Beller
Nicole Heller
Myla Aronson
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Resilient Landscapes Program
Urban Nature Lab