Study reveals birds in the city have a genetic advantage over rural birds


CITY birds are genetically different and more advantaged compared to countryside birds according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by Caroline Isaksson, senior lecturer at Lund University, and Dr Pablo Salmón, a research fellow at the University of Glasgow found genetic variations in birds.

The study is the largest of its kind in detecting how birds genetically adapt to different environments.

Birds in the city and birds in the country genetically adapt differently - UK and World News
Photo by the Bialons on Unsplash
Study reveals genetic differences between birds in urban areas and rural birds.

The researchers studied 192 birds in nine European cities including Glasgow, Malmö, Gothenburg, Madrid, Munich, Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon and Milan.

They compared genes from city birds those of their counterparts in the countryside and found that across all European cities, birds evolve in a similar way to adapt to the urban environment.

The research included a study of birds from Kelvingrove Park and birds from the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment forest near Loch Lomond.

Blood samples were taken from the birds and genetically analysed for the findings.

The findings of the research revealed that different genes linked to important biological functions controlled by serotonin were found to have been selected and passed down generations in the city birds.

In more rural communities, these genes are important but the genes that control them do not grant the same survival benefits as they do in an urban environment.

Rural birds do not have the same advantages as city birds - UK and World News

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash
Birds in rural areas do not have the same advantages as city birds.

Caroline Isaksson said: “This indicates that these behaviours, and cognition, are very important in order to live in urban environments with a lot of stress in the form of noise pollution, light at night, air pollution and constant proximity to people.”

Dr Pablo Salmón said: “It is surprising that cities, which from an evolutionary perspective are a recent phenomenon, are already leaving their footprint in the genome of birds.”

The study has been published in Nature Communications: Continent-wide genomic signatures of adaptation to urbanisation in a songbird across Europe.