UrBioNet: A Global Network for Urban Biodiversity Research and Practice
Over 50% of the world’s human population lives in cities making the human experience of nature increasingly defined within urban areas. In order to understand how cities can support both humans and biodiversity, research and collaboration is needed between scientists, urban planners, and design professionals across the globe. UrBioNet will develop a network of these professionals to study the factors affecting biodiversity in cities. The network will facilitate engagement of scientists globally and develop databases and materials focusing on the plants and animals of cities that are relevant to local residents, undergraduate and graduate students, planners, and managers. We will expand existing global databases of plants and birds in cities and develop new databases of bats, fish, and insect pollinators of cities and their surrounding regions. We will focus in particular on the compilation and monitoring of urban biota in areas of high regional biodiversity, such as tropical cities and cities within biodiversity hotspots. Key activities in support of the network include: regionally targeted and network-wide workshops in locations underrepresnetned in urban biodiversity studies (Africa, South America, Southeast Asia), regular steering committee and working group meetings, and the development of an online graduate course on urban biodiversity. Three scientific working groups will use information collected in this network to answer questions regarding the ecological relationships of different species to urbanization, with consideration of cultural and social aspects, and develop recommendations for monitoring urban ecosystems. Outcomes from this project will help to push forward our understanding of the ecology of cities and provide useful information to planners and managers for the monitoring and preservation of biodiversity in urban regions.