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Evolution in the City

For this New York Times article, Carl Zimmer tags along with some urban evolutionary biologists — researchers who seem to have some different experiences than other field researchers. "We get police called on us a lot," says Jason Munshi-South, an assistant professor at Baruch College. "Sometimes with guns drawn." His group is studying white-footed mice that live in different parts of New York City and has found that mouse populations from different parks are genetically distinct. In the Hudson River, New York University's Isaac Wirgin has noted that all the tomcod living there have the same mutation in their AHR2 genes, a mutation that protects the fish from PCB pollution in the water. Other researchers are working indoors in the city's hospitals — John Quale at SUNY Downstate Medical Center found a strain of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniaein four Brooklyn hospitals. "New York, in other words, is an evolutionary experiment — one that some scientists find fascinating to observe," Zimmer writes.