Cities pose formidable obstacles to nonhuman life. Vast expanses of asphalt and concrete are inhospitable to plants and animals; traffic noise and artificial light disturb natural rhythms; sewage and pollutants imperil existence. Yet cities teem with life: In rowhouse neighbourhoods, tiny flowers bloom from cracks in the sidewalk. White clover covers lawns, its seeds dispersed by shoes and birds. Moths flutter and spiders weave their webs near electric lights. Sparrows and squirrels feast on the scraps people leave behind. Pairs of red-tailed hawks nest on window ledges. How do wild plants and animals in urban areas find mates? How do they navigate the patchwork of habitats to reproduce while avoiding inbreeding? In what ways do built environments enable or inhibit mating?
Sex in City Plants, Animals, Fungi, and More explores the natural history of sex in urban bacteria, fungi, plants, and nonhuman animals. Kenneth D. Frank illuminates the reproductive behaviour of scores of species. He examines topics such as breeding systems, sex determination, sex change, sexual conflict, sexual trauma, sexually transmitted disease, sexual mimicry, sexual cannibalism, aphrodisiacs, and lost sex. Frank offers a guide to urban reproductive diversity across a range of conditions, showing how an understanding of sex and mating furthers the appreciation of biodiversity. He presents reproductive diversity as elegant but vulnerable, underscoring the consequences of human activity. Featuring compelling photographs of a multitude of life forms in their city habitats, this book provides a new lens on urban natural history.
1. Nonflowering Plants
2. Herbaceous Annual Plants
3. Herbaceous Perennial Plants
4. Trees and Woody Vines
5. Butterflies and Moths
6. Bees, Wasps, and Ants
7. Dragonflies and Praying Mantises
8. Other Insects
9. Invertebrates Exclusive of Insects
10. Reptiles, Amphibians, and Fish
13. Fungi, Bacteria, and Lichens
Kenneth D. Frank is a retired physician whose current research focuses on how plants and animals adapt to urbanization. His work has been published in journals including Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, Pediatrics, Entomological News, and the Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society.
Jonathan Silvertown is a professor of evolutionary ecology at the University of Edinburgh. His books include Dinner with Darwin: Food, Drink, and Evolution (2017) and The Comedy of Error: Why Evolution Made Us Laugh (2020).
"Cities are renowned as hot spots of human diversity. This book demonstrates that although less well known, this is equally true of biodiversity. Here this is viewed through the unusual lens of reproductive diversity – the variety of means by which organisms perpetuate their lineages. It is a volume filled with insight and lots of natural history nuggets, and it is beautifully illustrated. I imagine that most readers will find 'I didn't know that' moments throughout."
– Kevin J. Gaston, University of Exeter
"Although there are many theories about how nonhuman life survives in cities, new insight comes from a firsthand look at the diverse range of organisms that live alongside us. Flowering plants, birds, reptiles [...] Kenneth D. Frank takes readers on a walk through the city, illuminating a universal biological principle: finding a mate. Lavishly illustrated, full of naturalist erudition and evolutionary curiosities, this book reveals that courses in ecology can be found within walking distance."
– P.-O. Cheptou, evolutionary ecologist, CNRS, France