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(10,413 posts)
Mon Jun 24, 2024, 04:33 PM Jun 24

Crabs, cockatoos and ringtail possums: the wild things thriving in our cities

In Sapzurro bay on the Colombia-Panama border, the blue land crab can be found scuttling around human infrastructure, burrowing in the nooks and crannies of the coastal settlement. The species, which can grow up to 15cm and ranges in colour from violet to bright cerulean blue, is considered critically endangered or vulnerable in this region, although it can be classed as invasive elsewhere. It traditionally lived in the region’s rich mangrove forests, many of which have now been urbanised – habitat loss that scientists have blamed for the crab’s decline.

But when scientists studied the distribution of the species around Sapzurro bay, they were surprised to find it was still thriving in areas where vegetation had been eliminated: crawling in pastures, banana and coconut plantations, and scurrying below concrete structures. While burrows in urban areas were fewer and smaller, it had successfully built homes along sewage canals and among houses.

A growing body of research is collecting data on species like this crustacean – threatened wildlife learning to thrive in urban spaces alongside humans.

“We often forget that we are dealing with living animals,” says José Marin Riascos, a marine ecologist at the Corporation Centre of Excellence in Marine Sciences of Colombia, who published the study on the blue land crab in April 2024. “They are not passive, they are active. If you change something, then they answer with another change.”

These findings also complicate the long-held idea that cities cannot be hotspots for animals and plants, and that conservation is something to do far away, in untouched places.

“We are assuming that when humans modify an ecosystem, the habitat for the biodiversity is lost,” says Riascos. That is not always the case, he says. In some contexts, “it is just changing”.


Wonderful article! What wild things live in the urban environment near you? I can count possums, raccoons, and skunks, of course. We do get the occasional bear in town, and probably foxes too.

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Crabs, cockatoos and ringtail possums: the wild things thriving in our cities (Original Post) Jilly_in_VA Jun 24 OP
I lived in a DC suburb and wejt to work at 4 AM. SarahD Jun 24 #1


(1,732 posts)
1. I lived in a DC suburb and wejt to work at 4 AM.
Mon Jun 24, 2024, 06:06 PM
Jun 24

My neighborhood was like a wildlife park. Deer, coyotes, skunks, possums, owls out prowling the lawns in large numbers.

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