Cities as ‘Powerhouses of Evolution’

A new book on urban ecology shows how quickly wild species living in cities can adapt to their surroundings.

1 minute read

May 12, 2018, 1:00 PM PDT

By Katharine Jose


Pheobus / Shutterstock

At National Geographic, Simon Worrel interviews Menno Schilthuizan, an evolutionary biologist in field of urban ecology whose most recent book, Darwin Goes to Town, is about why and how natural selection of wild species occurs more rapidly inside of cities than outside of them.

“This is what we call HIREC, or human-induced rapid evolutionary change. We see that in cities and also in other environments where humans create a new habitat or ecological situation. In those places you see very, very fast evolutionary adaptations, which can take place in the space of decades or even years.”

The piece covers mosquitoes in the London Underground, bobcats in Los Angeles and plants in Montpellier, France, all of which are species that have evolved very quickly and in very discrete populations (like north and south of the 101) to better survive urban environments.

Saturday, May 5, 2018 in National Geographic

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

View of downtown Dallas, Texas skyline with skyscrapers against twilight sky.

Dallas Hopes to Boost Economy With TV and Film Tax Breaks

The Dallas city council voted unanimously to request a designation from the state that would allow the city to offer sales and use tax exemptions for redevelopment of TV and film production facilities.

May 27 - The Dallas Morning News

Close-up of mobile phone with Airbnb and VRBO app icons.

Proposed Bill Would Outlaw Nearly Half of Cleveland's Airbnbs

The proposed new ordinance aims to help combat the Cleveland's housing crunch and eliminate nuisance complaints related to short-term rental properties.

May 27 - Cleveland Scene

White and peach Florida state capitol building with palm trees in front in Tallahassee, Florida.

Florida Rolls Back Renewable Energy Goals

A new state law eliminates language calling for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and makes it easier to build natural gas pipelines.

May 27 - News Service of Florida

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.