OOS 28-1 - Rethinking green infrastructure from an eco-evolutionary perspective

Wednesday, August 9, 2017: 1:30 PM
Portland Blrm 256, Oregon Convention Center
Marina Alberti, Urban and Environmental Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Emerging evidence suggests that cities might play a major role in contemporary evolution by accelerating phenotypic changes in wildlife, including animals, plants, fungi, and other organisms. These changes have potentially significant effects on species interactions and energy and material fluxes that, in turn, influence ecosystem functions, such as primary productivity, nutrient cycling, hydrological function, climate regulation, and biodiversity, which provide essential services for human wellbeing. In cities, subtle eco-evolutionary changes are at play – and at an unprecedented pace. Green infrastructure mediates eco-evolutionary feedback through several mechanisms that operate on multiple scales. Yet, how green infrastructure mediate eco-evolutionary dynamics in urbanizing regions is unclear.

Building on emerging evidence in the literature, I present examples of human-driven ecoevolutionary feedbacks to articulate emerging hypotheses on how green infratsructure might mediate eco-evolutionary dynamics in urbanizing regions. By focusing on documented signatures of trait change, I identify emerging mechanisms linking green infratsructure to eco-evolutionary dynamics and the potential feedbacks on ecosystem function. Finally, I discuss how rapid change associated with urbanization can give rise to different feedbacks governing the behavior of evolutionary change and their potential implications


A major shift in planning and designing cities and their infrastructure might not occur unless we see humans as one of the key players of planetary evolution. In this paper I idevelop a framework and identify emerging hypotheses on how green infrastructure mediates eco-evolutionary dynamics in urbanizing regions. By explicitly linking green infrastructure to changes in traits that affect ecosystem function, we can start to map the eco-evolutionary implications of urbanization for ecosystem function and human well-being. Studying how human-driven micro-evolutionary changes interact with ecological processes through offers us the chance to advance our understanding of eco-evolutionary feedbacks and will provide new insights for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem function over the long term.