About this Research Topic
We live in a world filled with fascinating plants and animals, each adapted to environments that range from freezing arctic tundras to humid tropical forests. Our world is also home to more than seven billion people, a number added to every day. Each of us puts pressure on the environment and the space left for wildlife. At its most extreme, every aspect of the environment has been influenced by people's choices, and nowhere more so than the urban areas where most people live. Urban areas are full of people playing and working. They are also full of animals and plants, often living secret lives that go unnoticed. Our interactions with wildlife are often determined by our desire to get close to nature, or sometimes our fear of it.
When people think of urban areas they mostly imagine big cities, but these areas extend into more ‘suburban’ environments made up of houses, gardens, roads and parks. These landscapes are often filled with wildlife that represent a combination of local plants and animals with species from other places that are planted or escaped, creating a unique habitat linked directly with the people who live there. There are many challenges for the species found here, but many opportunities too. People can individually affect the environment, for example, by owning pet cats who are like mini tigers preying on the local birds; or by leaving out trash and drawing in herds of peccaries or families of raccoons. But it is in combination that we have the greatest impact. For example, houses and street lamps generate lots of light noise which can distract moths from their usual habits, and the roads and streets we build divide up the habitat making it harder for wildlife to move around and find resources. We in turn are also affected by the environment; living in nature-filled areas can positively affect our health and our well-being, yet interactions with certain species (like tics or mosquitoes) can bring disease or discomfort.
Scientists and ‘citizen scientists’ (expert members of the public) around the world are exploring our interactions with wildlife and nature in urban areas, and here we explore some of this research. This collection of articles aims to highlight some of the amazing wildlife that live alongside us and we explore how we can positively and negatively affect these species.
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