Darwin Comes to Town: How Animals and Plants adapt to the Urban Jungle

The Linnean Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BF, United Kingdom
Organiser: events@linnean.org
0207 434 4479 ext 211

NATURE READER 18:00 – 19:00 Wednesday 30 January 2019

book cover
© Menno Schilthuizen

We are marching towards a future in which three-quarters of humans live in cities, and a large portion of the planet's landmass is urbanized. With much of the rest covered by human-shaped farms, pasture, and plantations, where can nature still go? One possibility: to the cities. And with more and more wildlife carving out new niches among humans, evolution takes a surprising turn. Urban animals evolve to become more tolerant, curious and resourceful, city pigeons develop “detox”-plumage, and weeds growing from cracks in the pavement adjust their seeds. Some city animals are even on their way of becoming an entirely new species. Thanks to evolutionary adaptation taking place at unprecedented speeds, plants and animals are coming up with new ways of living in the seemingly hostile environments of asphalt and steel that we humans have created. We may be on the verge of a new chapter in the history of life -- a chapter in which much old biodiversity is, sadly, disappearing, but also one in which a new and exciting set of life forms is being born.

Menno Schilthuizen is a professor in character evolution and biodiversity at Leiden University and a permanent research scientist at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden. He has published numerous articles about evolution and ecology, as well as popular science books. His research focuses on the evolution of species and the way communities of closely related species interact ecologically, in particular working with mainly beetles and land snails.

  • This event is free and open to all.
  • Registration is essential. Seats will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Doors will open at 17:45, 15 minutes prior to the start of the talk.
  • The event will be followed by a white wine reception, where there will be a chance to buy the book.

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