photo by Katie Campbell
“Dr. Alberti is a wonderfully creative researcher who likes to think in terms of cities as hybrid ecosystems. She takes the idea of hybrids from genetics. Hybrids can be a step along the way to developing new species. Seeing the city as a hybrid ecosystem means thinking about how cities depend on the natural flows of water, clean air and soil to function properly. It also means seeing how cities change those flows to create something new that didn’t exist before. For example, recent studies have shown how vacant lots create new habitats and road corridors can function as routes of seed dispersal for many plant species. Researchers also have seen some songbirds changing their behavior in urban environments as compared with natural ones.
These examples show plants and animals creating new behaviors in the environments we created for ourselves. As we come to understand that response more deeply, there’s the possibility for cities themselves to change with the goal of becoming more resilient and sustainable in the face of the Anthropocene challenges. It’s about human and natural systems evolving together.