6 Apr 2016

Threats to nature in the city

From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am on 6 April 2016

What price does nature pay when it comes to technological advancements and evolving human behaviour in growing cities?

Drone flying

Photo: 123RF

A joint study by researchers from Australasia and the UK has identified some of the current trends and the associated future threats facing urban ecosystems.

Dr Margaret Stanley, a senior lecturer in Biological Sciences at Auckland University, was involved in the research. “Often it’s the biodiversity aspects that get left behind,” she tells Nine To Noon’s Kathryn Ryan.

LISTEN to Dr Margaret Stanley's interview with Kathryn Ryan

Here are just a few of the emerging threats Dr Stanley and her fellow international researchers identified:

“In New Zealand and Australia we’re seeing a lot of hobby use of drones… and Amazon is planning to send 86 percent of their packages by drone in the coming years. We’re worried about those animals who nest or reproduce in urban areas.” 

LED lighting
“They can tick the box for carbon efficiency, but the switch to LED is a switch in the spectrum that animals are experiencing. What we may have to deal with is that perhaps birds are waking up earlier, and that being a problem for humans.”

Solar panelling
“Solar panels polarise light, [and] insects respond strongly to polarised light. Particularly when breeding and when females are looking for somewhere to oviposit, particularly freshwater species. They can end up trying to land and lay eggs on the solar panels rather than water.”

Self-healing concrete
“They’re infusing concrete with a bacteria that self-heals those cracks… those cracks can be really important for some rare species [of plant] in particular countries and places. It would be a shame for urban areas to become more sterile and concrete.”