This is an urban world. I mean, since 2008, more than half of all people have lived in cities—by 2050, we expect that proportion to be near 70 %. Of course, urbanisation often benefits human wellbeing, such as by improving access to sanitation, potable water, healthcare, education and jobs. It can even help us use resources more efficiently and preserve more intact habitat for biodiversity—that is, if it is done right. But more often, it has negative environmental impacts. After all, cities (or activities elsewhere that ultimately support urban demand) generate the bulk of anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions. And urbanisation is a major driver of the sixth extinction.

So, doing urban-ecology research aligns with what drives everything I do—the desire to help solve the environmental crisis. And my agenda asks three separate but related big questions.

  1. What are the biotic impacts of urbanisation?
  2. How does urbanisation alter human-Nature relationships and conservation behaviours?
  3. What ecosystem services do urban animals render?

The outputs, combined, can identify strategies to mitigate the effects of urbanisation on biodiversity, identify human obstacles to conserving it and convince people that doing so is worth it. But answering these questions requires interdisciplinarity and often involves collaborating with researchers whose expertise complements mine.