As we all know all too well, rats are everywhere in NYC: on our streets, in our baked goods, in our vehicles, and of course, crawling up our legs on the subway. But we don't know why rats prefer hanging out in certain neighborhoods rather than others. But Fordham University biologist Jason Munshi-South has set out to understand just why our rodent overlords do what they do.
"People seem to have a learned and possibly inherited revulsion to them," said Munshi-South in a release about the project. "Which makes sense. Rats are a very obvious symbol of urban decay."

Munshi-South and a team of student researchers have been collecting DNA samples from rat populations across all 41 Manhattan zip codes to track how rats disperse through the city, and whether genetic mutations are indigenous to certain Manhattan communities.

"Our analysis will be geared toward understanding the general relatedness between rats in different places in Manhattan, and whether the composition of the landscape determines those relationship patterns," said Munshi-South.

"Do they use subway tunnels, for example, to move north and south? Are sewer tunnels of a certain age associated with movements across the city? Are certain mutations common in one part of the city more than another? If we can successfully model how rats move around the city, we can better control their populations, or modify the landscape to change behavior."

It's research that is incredibly relevant to our modern times—it feels like there's a new article about exploding rat populations every week—and also eternal. For Munshi-South is fully-aware that he's dealing with an ancient evil: "You can really never get rid of them and almost certainly they will outlast humans in a lot of ways on the deeper evolutionary time scale," he said.

We don't know much about the future, but as long as there are subways, there will be videos like this.