Invasive Species and Conservation in a Globalizing and Urbanizing World

Monday, February 15, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Wilson C (Marriott Wardman Park)
Mark Davis, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN
Cities have been cosmopolitan centers for hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of years but current changes due to rapid globalization are presenting new challenges to urban planners and urban ecology researchers.  Many views and assumptions once considered sound have become dated and called into question.  Nativism, a twentieth century perspective in which only native species are considered authentic and valued residents, has become largely meaningless given the extent to which cities are now inhabited by plants and animals of mixed-origin (native and nonnative).  Anxiety over this and other types of novelty and uncertainty about the future have prompted resistance and even combative responses from some, often accompanied by crusading efforts to restore the past.  But, what used to be is not a prescription for what ought to be, or even often what can be.  In the face of ever increasing trans-global movements of people, cultures, commodities, and biota, cities will continue to change.  Recognizing and accepting urban novelty, whatever the type, does not mean urban planners and researchers should abandon ecological and cultural histories in their work.  After all, the emergence of novelty itself has its own history.  The introductions and spread of many nonnative plants in urban areas have occurred along transportation corridors and in industrial areas, and thus are reflective of a city’s own past growth and development.  While urban novelty presents new challenges, it also provides new opportunities.  Perhaps the greatest opportunity lies in its potential to inspire urban planners and researchers from different disciplines to collaborate and to think outside the box, to conceive of 21st century cities in novel ways.