Ecology and Evolution on Your Lawn
Edited by Christorpher A. Lepczyk and Paige S. Warren
University of California Press, $70.00, 326 pages
Urban Bird Ecology and Conservation is a fascinating read for birders and a somewhat new direction in ornithology. Edited by professors Christopher A. Lepczyk and Paige W. Warren the text book contains mostly research studies about not just urban bird ecology, but also public involvement in birding. Those who do not understand the statistics and scientific methods displayed here can glean some interesting information about birds anyway. The mathematics is tough in this one and there is no glossary, but urban planners can learn to get what they can from the research presented here anyway.
“Rather, today, we are examining how urban ecosystems may shape avian evolution, how bird physiology and behavior changes or are influenced by urbanization, how urban food webs are structured, and how human and nature are coupled systems.”
Sadly missing in focus, at least for this bird enthusiast, was better coverage of urban inquilines or those birds which have adapted to live in cities. Rather than a picture of a colorful Common Peafowl from Hawaii on the cover, it may have been more appropriate to have had a Pigeon, Starling or House Sparrow. These exotic, even here, birds have not been given protection or been admired for competing. Nature, one should argue, is in contrast with technological or human culture which has its territory, but these birds add a wild element to cities all over the world. One should not forget that pristine places need to be protected, but as the authors note, citizen participation is welcomed and evolution may be occurring in one’s backyard.
Reviewed by Ryder Miller