City Lights and Urban Wildlife

Artificial lighting affects not only our ability to see the stars, but it affects a great many aspects of the ecology of wildlife. Light can impact wildlife directly by streetlights or lit buildings, or more indirectly with sky glow, the light from combined city lights. It can affect many difference facets in the lives of wildlife including feeding, migrating, mating and even sleeping and in the worst instances it results in death.

One of the more well known and better documented examples is the impact of lights along beaches on newly hatched turtles. Once hatched from their eggs the young turtles naturally move towards the brightest lights which on a natural beach would be the stars and in the direction of the ocean. Instead, many turtles move inland because of bright lights, which subjects them to predators, cars, dehydration and ultimately death. Beaches with too much light can even prevent…

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Beyond the Hive Results

Via Animal Architecture blog, the result of the Beyond the Hive Competition (that was featured here last month) was announced this week and the winner was the Beevarian Antsel and Gretel Chalet. There are images of all of the constructed designs along with images of the structures with their designers at the British Land website. Here are images of the designs and the final constructed projects via the British Land website.

Further Reading::

Beyond the Hive Competition:: British Land

Beyond the Hive Competition:: The Metropolitan Field Guide

Animal Architecture

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Urban Bees

Over at Cities and the Environment, the electronic journal for the Urban Ecology Collaborative, the current issue features urban pollinators, specifically bees. There are some interesting articles ranging from the question of green roofs being valuable habitat for bees to enhancing community gardens with bees.

Can green roofs provide habitat for urban bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)? (PDF) is an interesting paper that discusses the challenges of increased urbanization and the potential role that green roofs can play in supplementing patches of habitat. In addition to cooling the “heat island”, reducing storm water runoff and improving air quality, it’s been suggested that the roofs of buildings that have replaced habitat such as shopping and industrial complexes could serves as replacement habitat for pollinators. Green roof studies in Europe have found positive evidence that green roofs can…

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Hedgehogs and Turtles:: adapting to the urban environment

To many wildlife species the urban environment is not a good place to be and it often acts as a barrier. However, there are two species that have adapted, and in one case, do better in an urban environment that we unintentionally created for them. The species that is doing better is the Eastern long-necked turtle in Australia. Their native habitat is freshwater, but they’ve made themselves at home in the Australian suburbs. They move around easily by making use of vegetated culverts and drainage lines created to manage stormwater. This creates a whole network of movement for them and researchers found they traveled significantly more than their counterparts living in the nature reserves. In that respect the suburbs had the same effect on the turtles as it does their human neighbors, longer commutes. The stormwater management system benefited the turtles in other ways as well by creating retaining…

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Beyond the Hive Competition

The UK really does have some excellent wildlife habitat design competitions. One of the most recent is called Beyond the Hive where designers created luxury hotels for the insects of London. The competition is a joint effort between British Land and The City of London Corporation “to celebrate 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.” There are five finalists and they will actually be building their designs for public viewing and voting. The designs are aimed at attracting a range of insects including beetles, bees, butterflies, spiders and a variety of others. The designs are very creative and have some entertaining names as well. This is really the kind of design that is so exciting because it’s a step to bridge the gap between ecology, habitat and aesthetics. Good design can be functional and artistic.

Here are a couple of the entries from the competition.

The Bumblebee City Nesters


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Artificial Bird Feeding:: What we don’t know

When it comes to backyard bird feeding, the bird feeder reigns supreme. Many people have one or more feeders in their yards and some people go to extremes with their feeders. However, how many people have stopped to consider if they are benefiting or harming the birds. This is an issue as contentious as keeping cats indoors and there are many viewpoints. Here is a first hand account of just how contentious the issue can be. The truth of the matter is however, we know very little about the impacts of artificial feeding.

A new study in the UK on artificial feeding with Great and Blue Tits (similar to Chickadees in the US), has shown some surprising results. They found that in groups where supplemental feeding was provided, the birds laid eggs earlier and had shorter incubation periods, not entirely surprising. The result  that was surprising…

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