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Cities may save some species from extinction, but they don’t save species’ ecological functions

19 / 04 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

The responses of wildlife species when their natural habitat is converted into urban areas are many and varied. Urbanization is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss around the globe, while, at the same time, some species are not only able to adapt to life in urban areas but actually thrive and grow more abundant than they might have in their natural surroundings. Some cities have thus been declared urban conservation hotspots — but research published last year shows that while those cities might help preserve robust populations of otherwise threatened species, they do not help preserve the crucial ecological functions of those species. This is an important distinction to make because the urban population is expected to grow by 1.35 billion people by 2030, which will in turn drive the expansion of urban areas worldwide by some 1.2 million square kilometers (more than 463,000 square miles), according to a 2012 study. That means that, by 2030, there could be three times the amount of global urban land cover that existed in 2000. The Hispaniolan amazon (Amazona ventralis). Photo Credit: Álvaro Luna. Of the animals that adapt to life in Earth’s growing urban areas, some of them will surely be threatened with extinction, making conservation efforts in cities imperative. A 2014 study that looked at 54 cities around the globe, for instance, found that about a third of them harbored threatened birds. Urban conservation hotspots may shelter viable populations of threatened species, but that doesn’t mean those species will…

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