Anthropogenic Food Inputs and the Nutritional Ecology of Urban Arthropods 2016-11-18T13:25:26+00:00

ant_nutrition

Anthropogenic Food Inputs and the Nutritional Ecology of Urban Arthropods

Research | Urban Ecology

Humans throw out nearly 1 billion metric tons of food scraps each year. Most of this waste accumulates in landfills, generating ~125m3 per metric ton in gasses, such as Methane and Carbon Dioxide, which are major contributors to global climate change. Therefore, anything urban arthropods can do to remove food scraps before they get to landfills is an important ecosystem service. These food scraps also represent a massive resource for urban arthropod communities, but we have a poor understanding of how arthropods exploit these resources and how switching to a diet of human foods alters other aspects of arthropod diets. We are examining food-mediated interactions between urban humans and arthropods. Current topics include: assessing the proportion of human foods in arthropod diets, interactions between arthropod use of artificial sugars and immune function, and the effects of human resource pulses on predator-prey interactions and food preferences of arthropods in urban environments.

People

Amy Savage, Post-doc
Clint Penick, Post-doc
Elsa Younsteadt, Research Associate
DeAnna Beasley, Post-doc

Project Publications

Youngsteadt, E., Henderson, R. C., Savage, A. M., Ernst, A. F., Dunn, R. R. and Frank, S. D. (2014), Habitat and species identity, not diversity, predict the extent of refuse consumption by urban arthropods. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12791. View PDF.

In the Press

Our Cheeseburgers Are Changing Ants’ Bodies

Mental Floss April 1, 2015 – Features the research of Clint Penick et al.

Junk Food Is Making NYC Ants More Like Humans

LiveScience March 31, 2015 – Features the research of Clint Penick et al.

Bugs in Manhattan Compete With Rats for Food Refuse

New York Times December 2, 2014 – Features the research of Elsa Youngsteadt et al.

Bugs, Spiders Keep NYC Clean by Eating Garbage

National Geographic December 2, 2014 – Features the research of Elsa Youngsteadt et al.