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Adaptations to the Anthropocene

Climate change, deforestation and pollution are just some of the threats humans are posing to the natural world. Whilst in some cases, animals and plants are adapting to these changes in amazing ways, this is far from a solution to the world’s extinction crisis. Humans must change to give the earth a second chance.

Learn why biodiversity is important and what we can do to save all species, including ourselves:


Can animals adapt to life in the big city?

Biologists have found that urban birds have changed the volume and pitch of their calls so that they can be heard over the sound of cars and busy city life. Calls and songs are important for birds, they use them to mark their territory, to alert others to danger, and to attract mates.

In some cases, they have learnt new human sounds to add to their calls, like this magpie here:

Other animals, like Common Brushtail Possums have been able to live in cities by having a flexible and generalist diet. They have evolved to be bolder and more comfortable amongst humans, buildings and cars.

Adapting to climate change

Climate change is one of the most pressing environmental issues we face today. Watch the video below explaining some adaptations to climate change through scientific demonstrations.

Extreme Adaptations (Play from 23:48)

Using science to help species adapt

Scientists in some situations, are helping animals and plants adapt to changing conditions brought about by the Anthropocene.

Cane Toad Sausages

Cane toads were introduced to Australia by humans. This was a terrible mistake as they are poisonous to native animals which die if they eat them. However, scientists are feeding cane toad sausages to the native Northern Quoll… this makes them ill but doesn’t kill them. They then learn to avoid cane toads all together and pass their knowledge on to their offspring!

Breeding heat resistant corals

Scientists are selectively breeding corals in labs that can withstand higher temperatures. Once formed, they are then placed back into the reef to grow and breed with other corals. Scientists hope this will help corals reefs becomes more resilient to climate change.

Further activities and resources

1. Bold birds

Investigate the boldness of urban birds in your local area in this three part activity.
Click here to access the 'Bold Birds' activity sheet.

2. Life in the city

Investigate the behavioural adaptations of common urban adapted species.
Click here to access the 'Life in the city: Urban Behavioural Adaptations' activity sheet.

3. Building biodiverse cities

Design a suburb using principles of Biodiversity-Sensitive Urban Design.
Click here to access the 'Design a Biodiversity-Sensitive Suburb' activity sheet.

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