An international team of scientists from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Complutense University in Madrid, and the Institute of Nature Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow conducted research on the adaptation to urbanization at the genomic level in the damselfly Ischnura elegans.
Led by Prof. Wiesław Babik from Jagiellonian University, the researchers aimed to compare the genomes of insects living in urban and suburban areas. Their goal was to examine the evolutionary changes that occur most rapidly in response to the pressure humans exert on the environment. The results were published in the journal “Evolutionary Applications.”
“Complex and rapid environmental changes caused by urbanization pose significant challenges for organisms,” notes Dr. Szymon Śnieguła, Prof. at the Institute of Nature Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences, from the Ecopond project.
For example, urban sprawl can lead to the strong fragmentation of habitats, forcing animals to compete for access to limited resources such as nesting sites and food sources provided by a relatively small number of plants with low diversity. The study revealed that the most significant differences between dragonflies from urban and rural areas appeared at the level of genes involved in the organization of neural cells, potentially linked to behavioral changes in these insects.