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Cities Support More Protected Species Than Non-Urban Areas, Researchers Say

Dec 08, 2015 04:08 PM EST
Cities protect more threatened species than non-urban areas. This calls for conservationists to refocus their efforts.
(Photo : Flickr: Katie Haugland)

Its a common assumption that open-grasslands and dense wooded countrysides, support a greater number of threated species than cities, but a new study has revealed just the opposite.

Our planet is currently facing what has been termed a "sixth mass extinction" and in to more target conservation efforts more effectively, an Australian team of researchers investigated the distributions of 1,643 protected species throughout the country. Then they compared population sizes found in cities to those found outside urban environments, according to their news release.

Their analysis revealed that all Australian cities housed protected species of both plants and animals and 30 percent of all federally listed species were found in urban areas. While cities are often thought to negatively impact species, the recent findings suggest these highly-populated and commercialized areas instead act as a safe haven.   

"Our results show that to tackle species extinction we can no longer afford to ignore the places where most of us live and work," Dr. Christopher Ives, co-lead author of the study from School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University), explained. "In Australia, every city has a role to play in safeguarding the country's most threatened biodiversity."

Rather than focusing on the protection of pristine environments, the recent findings is prompting conservationists to look for new ways to tackle biodiversity loss and increase protection of threatened species.

The study was recently published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

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