Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Urban Wildlife Podcast on the ubiquitous critters we don’t notice

Posted 20 Sep 2015 / 0

Urban Wildlife PodcastEpisode 2: Right under our noses?

Another great episode about urban wildlife, this time the species we might not see even though they are fairly common in urban settings.

That there are tons of insects in cities that we may not be aware of is not especially surprising to me. Insects are hardy, and most are pretty versatile. Flying is a great strategy for urban living, because you do not need continuous habitat in order to maintain enough optimal habitat. While insects don’t fly all that far, most can make it from small patch of habitat to small patch of habitat in urban areas because what constitutes a viable patch for an insect has to be pretty small. It also helps to produce a ton of offspring with little expectation that very many of them will make it. Who cares how many of my babies get smashed on a windshield of a car as long as a few make it to suitable habitat unscathed?

With microbes there is this theory that their distribution is “cosmopolitan” because they face few dispersal limitations. If this theory is true, microbes should exist in urban areas anywhere where they can take advantage of the resources they require. I have to imagine that this would also be the case — at least to some degree — with insects.

I was really surprised by the fact that there are flying squirrels in most urban areas of the United States, and particularly impressed by co-host Billy Brown’s efforts to see one.

The story of Kirtland’s snake in Pennsylvania is a great reminder of how often we know so little about our impacts on diversity. If a species is hard to find and not that many people are looking for it, we really do not know if we are driving it towards extinction. We need an army of naturalist-nerds looking for these species!

A Minor Post

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