The University of Washington‘s Department of Biology and School of Environmental and Forest Sciences will be hosting a joint seminar on inequalities in the world of urban ecosystems with professor Dr. Chris Schell.

The seminar is free and will be held virtually at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 25. Schell, who is an assistant professor of sciences and mathematics within the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington in Tacoma, will present, “Wealth, race, and wildlife: The impacts of structural inequality on urban wildlife.”

Urban ecosystems are intrinsically heterogenous, characterized by dynamic biotic and abiotic interactions that are not witnessed in non-urban environments. Urban flora and fauna experience a suite of novel disturbances and stressors that have led to remarkable phenotypic strategies and adaptations to cope with urban living. Despite recent groundbreaking discoveries and innovation in the fields of urban ecology and evolution, the drivers of urban heterogeneity that induce biological change are seldom articulated. The spatiotemporal distributions of urban organisms are directly affected by the uneven distribution of resources (e.g., refugia, food, water) across cities, all of which are connected to societal function and governance. Hence, to build a comprehensive understanding of urban systems and wildlife adaptation, we must integrate and reconcile how structural inequality – especially racism and classism – shape urban environmental mosaics.

In this seminar talk, Schell will discuss how structural and systemic inequalities, especially economic and racial inequality, shape ecological and evolutionary outcomes of wildlife. In addition, he will discuss how certain species (e.g. coyotes and raccoons) may serve as ecosystem sentinels or bioindicators of environmental health and inequity. In doing so, we will discuss how leading with an environmental justice and activism framework in the natural sciences can promote conversation, sustainability, and resilience in a human-dominated world.

The Zoom link for the seminar works best when it’s copied and pasted into your web browser: