Meeting Abstract

S10-4  Sunday, Jan. 7 09:00 - 09:30  Behavioral adaptations to urban environments: an integrative perspective from individuals to species LAPIEDRA, Oriol; Harvard University

Human-induced environmental changes such as urbanization are a threat for the persistence of numerous animal populations worldwide. Considerable progress has been recently made in identifying biological patterns resulting from the process of urbanization. However, unraveling the mechanisms driving these patterns has remained more elusive. Because behavior largely determines how animals interact with the environment, it has been hypothesized to be an important factor determining the success of animals in urban environments. Here I will argue how the study of animal behavior can largely contribute to our understanding of why some animals thrive in urban environments whereas others do not. First, I will first discuss some of the recent progress in studies of animal behavior in urban environments. Then, I will comment on the limitations hindering progress in our understanding of the mechanisms behind adaptation to urban environments such as the lack of an explicit temporal and spatial framework, the difficulty of assessing individual variation in behavior and the ethical issues associated with field experiments. Finally, I will argue that the factors that facilitate persistence differences among species are not necessarily the same than those factors favoring different individuals within a population. I will use Anolis lizards to illustrate how integrating different levels of information is crucial to obtain an integrative perspective of the role of behavior in the adaptation of animals to urban areas.