Sunday, 17 April 2016

LA, a surprise nature hotspot, is home to one of the biggest biodiversity studies

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is trying to collect and inventory all of the region’s urban wildlife, some of which hitched a ride to the metropolis

Rory Carroll in Los Angeles

Friday 15 April 201600.46 BST
Last modified on Friday 15 April 201615.53 BST

Los Angeles – synonymous with cars, concrete and urban sprawl – turns out to possess a secret, thriving underworld: nature.

A host of mammal, reptile, spider and insect species has hitched a ride to the metropolis on planes and ships and flourished in the balmy climate alongside native species, helping to turn LA into one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.

This little-known fact prompted the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County on Thursday to launch an attempt to collect and inventory all of the region’s urban wildlife – the world’s biggest urban biodiversity study.

“We are truly surrounded by nature at all times,” Lori Bettison-Varga, the museum’s president and director, told a press conference ringed with scientists and jars containing slithering, crawling examples.

“There’s often a misconception that Los Angeles is a concrete jungle, when in reality the city is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world,” said Brian Brown, the museum’s curator of entomology.

The museum is extending scientific research and investigation beyond its 3.5-acre site by mobilising “citizen scientists” who document and photograph wildlife in their homes, yards and streets.

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