A synanthrope (from the Greek σύν syn, "together with" + ἄνθρωπος anthropos, "man") is a member of a species of wild animal or plant that lives near, and benefits from, an association with human beings and the somewhat artificial habitats that people create around themselves (see anthropophilia). Such habitats include houses, gardens, farms, roadsides and rubbish dumps.

Pigeons intermingle with tourists in Venice

The category of synanthrope includes many species regarded as pests. It does not, however, include domesticated animals such as cattle, honeybees, pets, poultry, silkworms, and working animals.[1]

Examples of synanthropes are various insect species (lice, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, etc.), house sparrows, rock doves (pigeons), various rodent species, Virginia opossums, raccoons,[2] certain monkey species, coyotes,[3][4] urban ferals, and other urban wildlife.[1] The brown rat is counted as one of the most prominent synanthropic animals and can be found in almost every place there are people. Rats benefit from living alongside humans.[5][6]


In plants, synanthropes are classified into two main types - apophytes and anthropophytes.

Apophytes are synanthropic species that are native in origin. They can be subdivided into the following:[7]

  • Cultigen apophytes – spread by cultivation methods
  • Ruderal apophytes – spread by development of marginal areas
  • Pyrophyte apophytes – spread by fires
  • Zoogen apophytes – spread by grazing animals
  • Substitution apophytes – spread by logging or voluntary extension

Anthropophytes are synanthropic species of foreign origin, whether introduced voluntarily or involuntarily. They can be subdivided into the following:

  • Archaeophytes – introduced before the end of the 15th century
  • Kenophytes – introduced after the 15th century
  • Ephemerophytes – anthropophytic plants that appear episodically
  • Subspontaneous – voluntarily introduced plants that have escaped cultivation and survived in the wild without further human intervention for a certain period.
  • Adventive – involuntarily introduced plants that have escaped cultivation and survived in the wild without further human intervention for a certain period.
  • Naturalized or Neophytes – involuntarily introduced plants that now appear to thrive along with the native flora indefinitely.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Elizabeth Ann & Michael W. Klemens (2005). Nature in fragments: the legacy of sprawl. Columbia University Press. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-231-12779-0.
  2. ^ Meier, Allison C. "Night of the Living Synanthropes". CityLab. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  3. ^ "Gotham Coyote Project - Studying NYC's Coyotes". Gotham Coyote Project. Retrieved 2021-01-31.
  4. ^ Flores, Dan (September 2017). "Chapter 6: Bright Lights, Big Cities". Coyote America: A Natural & Supernatural History. Basic Books. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-465-09372-4.
  5. ^ Pritchard, Charlotte (2012-12-17). "Are you never more than 6ft away from a rat?". Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  6. ^ "Synanthrope Preserve". synpreserve.com. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  7. ^ Francesco Di Castri; A. J. Hansen & M. Debussche (1990). Biological invasions in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. Springer. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-7923-0411-1.

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