Dr. Christopher Schell (University of Washington, Tacoma)
Socio-eco-evo dynamics: Exploring how society shapes the biology of cities
March 11th 12:30-1:30pm ET
Urban ecosystems are intrinsically heterogenous, characterized by dynamic biotic and abiotic interactions that are not witnessed in non-urban environments. Urban flora and fauna experience a suite of novel disturbances and stressors that have led to remarkable phenotypic strategies and adaptations to cope with urban living. Despite recent groundbreaking discoveries and innovation in the fields of urban ecology and evolution, the drivers of urban heterogeneity that induce biological change are seldom articulated. The spatiotemporal distributions of urban organisms are directly affected by the uneven distribution of resources (e.g., refugia, food, water) across cities, all of which are connected to societal function and governance. Hence, to build a comprehensive understanding of urban systems and wildlife adaptation, we must integrate and reconcile how structural inequality – especially racism and classism – shape urban environmental mosaics. In this seminar talk, Dr. Chris Schell will discuss how structural and systemic inequalities, especially economic and racial inequality, shape ecological and evolutionary outcomes of wildlife. In doing so, he will discuss how leading with an environmental justice and activism framework in the natural sciences can promote conversation, sustainability, and resilience in a human-dominated world.