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Moving past the challenges and misconceptions in urban adaptation research
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  • Kristin Winchell,
  • Kevin Aviles-Rodriguez,
  • Elizabeth Carlen,
  • Lindsay Miles,
  • Anne Charmantier,
  • Luis De León,
  • Kiyoko Gotanda,
  • L. Ruth Rivkin,
  • Marta Szulkin,
  • Brian Verrelli
Kristin Winchell
Princeton University
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Kevin Aviles-Rodriguez
Fordham University
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Elizabeth Carlen
Washington University in St Louis
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Lindsay Miles
Virginia Commonwealth University
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Anne Charmantier
CNRS - UMR 5175
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Luis De León
University of Massachusetts Boston
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Kiyoko Gotanda
Université de Sherbrooke
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L. Ruth Rivkin
University of Toronto
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Marta Szulkin
Uniwersytet Warszawski
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Brian Verrelli
Virginia Commonwealth University
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Abstract

Although the field of urban evolutionary ecology is in its infancy, much progress has been made in identifying adaptations that arise as a result of selective pressures within these unique environments. However, as studies within urban environments have rapidly increased, researchers have recognized there are challenges and opportunities in characterizing urban adaptation. Some of these challenges are novel as a consequence of increased direct and indirect human influence, which compounds long-recognized issues with research on adaptive evolution more generally. In this perspective, we discuss several common research challenges to urban adaptation related to: (1) methodological approaches, (2) trait-environment relationships and the natural history of organisms, (3) agents and targets of selection, and (4) habitat heterogeneity. Ignoring these challenges may lead to misconceptions and further impede our ability to draw conclusions regarding evolutionary and ecological processes in urban environments. Our goal is to first shed light on the conceptual challenges of conducting urban adaptation research to help avoid propagation of these misconceptions. We further summarize potential strategies to move forward productively to construct a more comprehensive picture of urban adaptation, and discuss how urban environments also offer unique opportunities and applications for adaptation research.
28 Jul 2022Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
29 Jul 2022Assigned to Editor
29 Jul 2022Submission Checks Completed
02 Aug 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned