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A stressful life in the city affects birds’ genes

Great tits living in cities are genetically different from great tits in the countryside. This is what researchers have found in a unique study, where they examined populations of great tits in nine large European cities.

The researchers compared the city bird genes with the genes of their relatives in the countryside. It did not matter if the great tits lived in Milan, Malmö or Madrid: in order to handle an environment created by humans, the birds evolved in a similar way.

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Fourmis Temnothorax nylanderi

City and forest ants are surprisingly similar genetically

City life could lead to differential evolution between urban and forest populations. Aurelie Khimoun and her collaborators showed, in their article published in Biology Letters, that urban populations of the tiny acorn ant are surprisingly not genetically differentiated from forest populations, suggesting expansion and lack of isolation. However, some genes display traces of selection that point towards an adaptation to the urban environment.

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