Members of the Urban Wildlife Working Group are involved in urban wildlife research around the world! Check out some of our members' projects below. Most of these projects are ongoing although a few are already completed projects.
The Cook County Coyote Project is an ongoing comprehensive study of coyotes in Chicago metropolitan areas. With the help of many agencies*, we capture, collar, and monitor coyotes in order to understand how they live in urban areas as well as interact with other wildlife and domestic animals.
Go to the website (link above) to find out more information on the study (including objectives, methods, and application), information about urban coyotes (including how to co-exist with them and avoid conflicts), and a snapshot of the lives of the coyotes they track.
By providing the public with our research, they initiate the first step of coyote management- educating the public and untangling facts from myths. People should become aware of coyote signs and understand the differences between true threats and coexistence.
The ongoing Edmonton Urban Coyote Project is a multi-faceted study on coyotes from in the lab of Dr. Colleen Cassady St. Clair at the University of Alberta in Canada. We are collecting information in three main areas: coyote movement and habitat selection, diet of coyotes, and the knowledge and perceptions of residents about coyotes. We use GPS collars to track coyotes and we analyze their scat to learn how they use and move through the urban landscape. We wish to provide information that will promote positive interactions between people and wildlife while minimizing the need for lethal management of coyotes.
If urban and landscape planners are to successfully incorporate the needs of wildlife into greenway planning and design, they must have some idea of which characteristics of greenways contribute to their wildlife habitat value. Greenways for Wildlife is a completed project that sought to address this need by establishing design guidelines for greenways in the language of landscape and urban planners. We developed recommendations on how forest corridor width, adjacent development intensity, and other factors can be managed to attract a variety of wildlife. The findings of this important work can be found summarized on the project webpage.
The ongoing Santa Cruz Puma Project conducts research on puma behavioral, physiological, demographic and ecological responses to habitat fragmentation in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. The primary goals of the project are to develop a state-of-the-art accelerometer wildlife-tracking collar and investigate impacts of fragmentation on puma behavior, reproduction, movement and species interactions. The SCPP has a robust community outreach program and disseminates its findings through public lectures and educational field trips.
These ongoing, long-term projects are conducted in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area that straddles Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. In this park, National Park Service biologists have a long-term bobcat and mountain lion study, and have also studied coyotes in the past, and hope to do so again in the future. The projects involve the capture, radio-collaring/ear-tagging, and sample collection from mountain lions and bobcats. Thirty-one mountain lions have been captured since 2002 while more than 300 bobcats have been samples. Goals of the research initially focused on understanding how the ecology of these carnivores, and have expanded to genetics, disease, and pesticide studies as well.
Utilizing Lincoln Park Zoo’s diverse scientific specialties, the Urban Wildlife Institute studies the interaction between urban development and the natural ecosystem to develop scientific standards for minimizing conflict between these overlapping areas. Landscape ecology, population biology, epidemiology, endocrinology, veterinary medicine and other core disciplines contribute to an increased understanding of ecosystem health in an urban setting. The Urban Wildlife Institute aims to use Chicago as a model for urban areas struggling to deal with wildlife relocation, rehabilitation, disease and conflicts. A recent news article highlighted the Urban Wildlife Institute's work.
The Washington Urban–Wildland Carnivore Project is exploring ways to promote coexistence among humans and carnivores in King County, Washington. A collaboration between Woodland Park Zoo and the University of Washington, the research explores how carnivores respond to urbanization and human activity by studying where and when they occur, what they eat, and what happens to the system when apex carnivores are absent. As human development continues to expand, research on species that occur within the urban–wildland gradient helps set the stage for land-use planning, public education, outreach and conservation. We are deploying remote cameras and collecting scat samples in forest patches on federal, state, municipal and private lands along a gradient of human development intensity, from urban to wildland.
Communities around the United States are coping with a rise in deer-related problems, such as deer-vehicle collisions, tick-borne illnesses and costly damage to landscaping and property. The Community Deer Advisor provides support to local leaders who are searching for practical guidance to navigate the contentious deer management issues emerging in their home towns.
The Community Deer Advisor is a collaboration between Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources (Human Dimensions Research Unit and Natural Resources Extension) and The Nature Conservancy. This work was supported in part by Cornell University's David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF), and The Nature Conservancy' Science Impact Project and the Cox Family Fund for Science and Research.
The Urban Fishing Cats Conservation project studies fishing cats in the wetlands of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The first objective of our research is to understand and document the current status of fishing cats in Colombo’s urban wetlands, during post-war development with the use of camera traps and sign surveys. The second is to understand the behaviour of these cats in these urban habitats, particularly in regards to movement, activity patterns, and space use. The findings of the study will deepen our understanding of the ecology of the species. We will thus be able to use the fishing cat as a flagship species to conduct conservation awareness and education programs on the importance of urban wetlands. The data we gather during this project will also assist policy makers to identify and design a sustainable system of green corridors and other infrastructure that will help convert Colombo into a “green city”.
The Atlanta Coyote Project was started in 2015 as a way to provide the general public with information about the biology and natural history of coyotes. We also serve as a centralized location where coyote sightings, activity, and incidents across metro Atlanta and urban Georgia are reported, maintained, and mapped. The resulting data that we collect with the help of citizen scientists guides our scientific research efforts, which also enables us to teach the benefits of peaceful coexistence with wildlife. Our ongoing project is currently looking at species richness in riparian landscapes that are also occupied by coyotes.
We have recently been an outspoken critic of a state-sponsored coyote killing contest that was initiated in March 2017 called the "Georgia Coyote Challenge." This now annual contest is designed to encourage the killing of coyotes for the chance to win a lifetime hunting license. Our organization is well-positioned to scientifically refute state biologists who claim that coyotes are "negatively impacting native wildlife species." We feel that it is important for the public to understand the ecological harm that can come from the indiscriminate killing of predators. Visit our website and Facebook page to learn more about the Atlanta Coyote Project.
As both human and black bear populations continue to grow throughout the state, human-bear interactions are likely to become more common, especially as bears continue to use urbanized areas in search of resources. This study is the first of its kind in the Southeast U. S., and aims to contribute to objectives in the 10 year black bear management plan developed by the NCWRC.
Information collected by the study will help wildlife managers better understand what attracts bears to urban/suburban environments, if Asheville is serving as a source or sink for the surrounding bear population, what natural corridors could be conserved to reduce the proximity of people and bears, and if bears living in, or near, Asheville are susceptible to harvest. A more complete understanding of these factors will allow wildlife managers to make informed, science-based management decisions, and provide them with new information to educate residents on how to prevent future bear conflicts.
The Griffith Park Raptor Survey seeks to educate Los Angeles residents about local wildlife populations while utilizing citizen-scientists to collect robust data on raptor nesting patterns in and around Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Cooper Ecological Monitoring, Inc. has been conducting surveys on the flora and fauna in Griffith Park since 2007, when the Griffith Park Wildlife Management Plan (Cooper and Mathewson 2009) first documented the park’s flora and fauna and suggested best management practices for the future, including improved species monitoring. The Griffith Park Raptor Survey, launched in 2017, is an attempt to continue this momentum, with the goal of providing data to better manage our urban raptor population.
In 2015, researchers from Michigan State University and the Cleveland Metroparks launched Focus on Wildlife, a large-scale, multidisciplinary, long-term urban ecology project in Cleveland, Ohio. We seek to quantify the mechanisms shaping the distribution and abundance of wildlife throughout the park system. We are testing some of the fundamental hypotheses of ecology in an extensive urban ecosystem to see if theories derived in the wild hold true in urban settings. We are also examining how human perception of the parks relates to their ecological characteristics so that we can improve our education and outreach strategies for connecting people with nature in the city.
One of the greatest threats to urban ecosystems is the presence of fee-roaming domestic house cats (Felis catus). Felis catus is considered the “world’s worst invasive species” (International Union for the Conservation of Nature 2008). High populations of urban cats severely affect populations of native wildlife (e.g., birds, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, etc.). Also, feral cats and peoples’ free-roaming pet cats are at risk of serious disease and even early death. Many cities have implemented Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) programs in the hopes of reducing cat populations over time. Cat Tracker is a smartphone app designed to gather citizen science data regarding sightings of free-roaming house cats. Sightings reported through Cat Tracker will help us to better understand free-roaming cat population sizes and distributions throughout cities and to understand just how effective management programs (like TNR) are. For more information and to download this free smartphone app, visit http://cattracker.research.lemoyne.edu.