Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us

Spiderman on Broadway? ‘Been There, Done That,’ Say Ants

• January 24, 2011 • 6:00 AM

Insect biologist Rob Dunn has uncovered a hot spot of insect biodiversity — Manhattan.

Most people think of cities as the opposite of nature, but the truth is that urban areas are teeming with life. Crows, dandelions, and squirrels – to name just a few – are not most people’s idea of wild life, but all sorts of species are found in cities. We see the pigeons and the house sparrows all around us on a daily basis, but because biologists have generally avoided studying the species found in cities, we actually know next to nothing about the ecology of urban species.

In many ways, the Brazilian rainforest is better known to ecologists thManhattan skylinean the concrete jungle. Dr. Rob Dunn, an insect biologist and assistant professor at North Carolina State University, is piercing the mysteries of urban ecology. In a recent study in the journal PLoS One, he hunted down the biodiversity of one of the most urbanized places in the world: Manhattan, New York City. Looking at narrow planted strips on the medians of busy streets, he found many more ant species than anyone had imagined could be there.

Jai Ranganathan
Dr. Jai Ranganathan is a biologist and his research focuses on questions of species conservation. He can be reached at jai.ranganathan at

More From Jai Ranganathan

Tags: ,

If you would like to comment on this post, or anything else on Pacific Standard, visit our Facebook or Google+ page, or send us a message on Twitter. You can also follow our regular updates and other stories on both LinkedIn and Tumblr.

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and, delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow us

Subscribe Now

Quick Studies

Hunger and Low Blood Sugar Can Spur Domestic Quarrels

In an experiment, scientists found a correlation between low blood glucose and higher levels of spousal frustration.

Your Brain Starts Faltering After You Reach Age … 24

Sorry to break it to you, TSwift. At least in terms of cognitive functioning while playing StarCraft 2, you're finished.

Cavemen Were Awesome Parents

Toy hand axes, rock bashing, and special burials indicate that Neanderthals were cooler parents than previously thought, according to a new theory.

Bringing a Therapy Dog Into a Children’s Hospital Might Be a Terrible Idea

Despite the popularity of animal therapy in American pediatric hospitals, a new research review reveals that there's little support for its health benefits.

You Feel Closer to Your Destination Even When You’re Not

Simply moving toward or away from something alters the way you think about it, according to a new study.

The Big One

One state—Pennsylvania—logs 52 percent of all sales, shipments, and receipts for the chocolate manufacturing industry. March/April 2014