Research Topic

Behavioral Adaptations to Life in the City

About this Research Topic

Humans have drastically transformed the biosphere, affecting over 80% of Earth’s land cover. A fundamental challenge in science is to understand how animals are responding to the rapid creation of these novel environments. One fruitful approach has been to focus on urban phenotypes, with comparative studies that seek to understand what suite of species traits permit animals to permeate the urban filter, and population-level studies that focus on changes in physiology, behavior, and selection. Still, it is not entirely clear what aspects of urban living are responsible for urban phenotypes.

Urban environments present novel changes for species on many fronts, including anthropogenic noise, artificial light, heat islands, and shifted foraging opportunities. Understanding how animals respond and adapt to these novel environmental factors can help us understand which animals can adapt to urban environments, as well as how these environments might be altered to accommodate more native species. Research over the past two decades demonstrates that anthropogenic noise and artificial light strongly influence animal behavior and physiology, population densities, and community structures both within and outside of urban centers. Urban animals also tend to be bolder and exhibit a greater range of behavioral flexibility than animals from more rural populations.

This Research Topic will bring together a collection of articles from researchers at the cutting edge of this field to explore key questions:

• To what degree are observed responses to urban stressors short-term behavioral changes or heritable genetic responses?
• Might developmental or behavioral changes to urban environments facilitate genetic responses?
• What traits are most likely under selection from urban environments?

Thus, our goals are not only to explore these pressing questions but to present the latest theoretical and empirical research on behavioral flexibility and adaptations to urban environments, which address the conservation implications of unique phenotypes in urban landscapes. Advances on these fronts as outcomes of this collection of articles will have real conservation applications in the short term. Unlike globally complex environmental challenges such as climate change, chemical pollution, and invasive species, technologies exist to modify urban landscapes. There has been a recent surge in interest in how animals succeed or fail in urbanized habitats. Scientists, conservationists, and the general public want to know how animals adjust and survive in the presence of urban stressors. This collection of articles will bring together scientists at the top of their field to discuss the latest advances and to outline research goals while leveraging citizen science engagement.


Keywords: Behavior, urban, adaptation


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Humans have drastically transformed the biosphere, affecting over 80% of Earth’s land cover. A fundamental challenge in science is to understand how animals are responding to the rapid creation of these novel environments. One fruitful approach has been to focus on urban phenotypes, with comparative studies that seek to understand what suite of species traits permit animals to permeate the urban filter, and population-level studies that focus on changes in physiology, behavior, and selection. Still, it is not entirely clear what aspects of urban living are responsible for urban phenotypes.

Urban environments present novel changes for species on many fronts, including anthropogenic noise, artificial light, heat islands, and shifted foraging opportunities. Understanding how animals respond and adapt to these novel environmental factors can help us understand which animals can adapt to urban environments, as well as how these environments might be altered to accommodate more native species. Research over the past two decades demonstrates that anthropogenic noise and artificial light strongly influence animal behavior and physiology, population densities, and community structures both within and outside of urban centers. Urban animals also tend to be bolder and exhibit a greater range of behavioral flexibility than animals from more rural populations.

This Research Topic will bring together a collection of articles from researchers at the cutting edge of this field to explore key questions:

• To what degree are observed responses to urban stressors short-term behavioral changes or heritable genetic responses?
• Might developmental or behavioral changes to urban environments facilitate genetic responses?
• What traits are most likely under selection from urban environments?

Thus, our goals are not only to explore these pressing questions but to present the latest theoretical and empirical research on behavioral flexibility and adaptations to urban environments, which address the conservation implications of unique phenotypes in urban landscapes. Advances on these fronts as outcomes of this collection of articles will have real conservation applications in the short term. Unlike globally complex environmental challenges such as climate change, chemical pollution, and invasive species, technologies exist to modify urban landscapes. There has been a recent surge in interest in how animals succeed or fail in urbanized habitats. Scientists, conservationists, and the general public want to know how animals adjust and survive in the presence of urban stressors. This collection of articles will bring together scientists at the top of their field to discuss the latest advances and to outline research goals while leveraging citizen science engagement.


Keywords: Behavior, urban, adaptation


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

08 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

08 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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