Urban Wildlife Institute

Newton, IL, United States

Urban Wildlife Institute

Newton, IL, United States
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Troxell-Smith S.M.,University of Illinois at Chicago | Whelan C.J.,University of Illinois at Chicago | Magle S.B.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Brown J.S.,University of Illinois at Chicago
Animal Welfare | Year: 2017

Foraging ecology and food patch studies are commonly used to elucidate the environmental perceptions of wild, free-ranging animals. Their application to captive animals, however, especially those in zoos, is still in its infancy. To illustrate some specific applications of zoo foraging ecology, we provide a study that evaluated: (i) whether patch use and giving-up densities (GUDs) can reveal areas of preference within an exhibit for zoo species; (ii) if food patches provide an effective form of behavioural enrichment; and (iii) if visitor interest and behaviour is affected by food patch presence. A combination of behavioural observations, and experimental food patches and giving-up densities were used to address these objectives in Parma wallabies (Macropus parma) and Patagonian cavies (Dolichotis patagonum) at Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois USA. GUDs revealed distinct areas of preference and aversion within the exhibit for cavies, but not so for the wallabies. For both species, presence of food patches increased foraging behaviours, decreased inactive behaviours, and increased within-exhibit movement, demonstrating that food patches serve as an effective behavioural enrichment technique. The use of food patches also revealed striking differences between individuals, particularly for the pair of cavies. There were encouraging trends toward increased visitor number and stay-time when food patches were present in each exhibit, but the effect was not statistically significant. These results suggest that utilising patch use, GUDs, and foraging theory in zoo populations may enhance animal welfare, and can inform improvements to exhibit design directly from the animal's perspective. We conclude with a broader discussion of zoo foraging ecology as an emerging field, with suggestions for future avenues of research. © 2017 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare The Old School, Brewhouse Hill, Wheathampstead.

Moore C.T.,U.S. Geological Survey | Lonsdorf E.V.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Knutson M.G.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Laskowski H.P.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Lor S.K.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2011

Adaptive management is an approach to recurrent decision making in which uncertainty about the decision is reduced over time through comparison of outcomes predicted by competing models against observed values of those outcomes. The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a large land management program charged with making natural resource management decisions, which often are made under considerable uncertainty, severe operational constraints, and conditions that limit ability to precisely carry out actions as intended. The NWRS presents outstanding opportunities for the application of adaptive management, but also difficult challenges. We describe two cooperative programs between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to implement adaptive management at scales ranging from small, single refuge applications to large, multi-refuge, multi-region projects. Our experience to date suggests three important attributes common to successful implementation: a vigorous multi-partner collaboration, practical and informative decision framework components, and a sustained commitment to the process. Administrators in both agencies should consider these attributes when developing programs to promote the use and acceptance of adaptive management in the NWRS. © 2010 .

Hamer S.A.,Michigan State University | Lehrer E.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Magle S.B.,Urban Wildlife Institute
Zoonoses and Public Health | Year: 2012

Wild birds are important in the maintenance and transmission of many zoonotic pathogens. With increasing urbanization and the resulting emergence of zoonotic diseases, it is critical to understand the relationships among birds, vectors, zoonotic pathogens, and the urban landscape. Here, we use wild birds as sentinels across a gradient of urbanization to understand the relative risk of diseases caused by three types of zoonotic pathogens: Salmonella pathogens, mosquito-borne West Nile virus (WNV) and tick-borne pathogens, including the agents of Lyme disease and human anaplasmosis. Wild birds were captured using mist nets at five sites throughout greater Chicago, Illinois, and blood, faecal and ectoparasite samples were collected for diagnostic testing. A total of 289 birds were captured across all sites. A total of 2.8% of birds harboured Ixodes scapularis- the blacklegged tick - of which 54.5% were infected with the agent of Lyme disease, and none were infected with the agent of human anaplasmosis. All infested birds were from a single site that was relatively less urban. A single bird, captured at the only field site in which supplemental bird feeding was practised within the mist netting zone, was infected with Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica. While no birds harboured WNV in their blood, 3.5% of birds were seropositive, and birds from more urban sites had higher exposure to the virus than those from less urban sites. Our results demonstrate the presence of multiple bird-borne zoonotic pathogens across a gradient of urbanization and provide an assessment of potential public health risks to the high-density human populations within the area. © 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

Magle S.B.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Simoni L.S.,University of Illinois at Chicago | Lehrer E.W.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Brown J.S.,University of Illinois at Chicago
Urban Ecosystems | Year: 2014

We examined how predator or prey presence, as well as local and landscape factors, influence the distribution of coyotes (Canis latrans) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Chicago metropolitan area. We collected data for 2 years at 93 study sites along 3 transects of urbanization using motion-triggered cameras. Our primary objective was to determine the relationship among coyote and deer spatial and temporal distribution, habitat characteristics, and human activity using multi-season patch occupancy models. Coyote occupancy was most strongly linked to rates of site visitation by humans and dogs, and was more likely farther from the urban center, with coyote colonization of sites inversely related to road density, housing density, and human and dog site visitation. Deer more frequently occupied sites with high canopy cover near water sources and colonized smaller sites with reduced housing density and human and dog presence. Expected predator–prey dynamics were altered in this highly urban system. Though we predicted deer would avoid coyotes on the landscape based on an “ecology of fear” framework, deer and coyote occupancy showed a strong positive association. We suggest that a scarcity of quality habitat in urban areas may cause the species to co-occupy habitat despite potential fawn predation. Modifying human foot traffic in green spaces may represent a useful tool for management and conservation of large urban mammals. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Ricketts T.H.,University of Vermont | Lonsdorf E.,Urban Wildlife Institute
Ecological Applications | Year: 2013

Natural ecosystems benefit human communities by providing ecosystem services such as water purification and crop pollination. Mapping ecosystem service values has become popular, but most are static snapshots of average value. Estimating instead the economic impacts of specific ecosystem changes can better inform typical resource decisions. Here we develop an approach to mapping marginal values, those resulting from the next unit of ecosystem change, across landscapes. We demonstrate the approach with a recent model of crop pollination services in Costa Rica, simulating deforestation events to predict resulting marginal changes in pollination services to coffee farms. We find that marginal losses from deforestation vary from zero to US$700/ha across the landscape. Financial risks for farmers from these losses and marginal benefits of forest restoration show similar spatial variation. Marginal values are concentrated in relatively few forest parcels not identified using average value. These parcels lack substitutes: nearby forest parcels that can supply services in the event of loss. Indeed, the marginal value of forest parcels declines exponentially with the density of surrounding forest cover. The approach we develop is applicable to any ecosystem service. Combined with information on costs, it can help target conservation or restoration efforts to optimize benefits to people and biodiversity. © 2013 by the Ecological Society of America.

Magle S.B.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Salamack K.A.,Wildlife Habitat Council | Crooks K.R.,Colorado State University | Reading R.P.,Denver Zoological Foundation
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2012

Urbanization and habitat fragmentation have the potential to influence bird communities. In addition, these phenomena, as well as ongoing lethal control measures, have also greatly reduced the range of the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) since the beginning of the 20th century. Although prairie dogs are highly interactive species that can influence avian communities, few studies have investigated whether these interactions persist in urban settings. Our goal was to investigate the relative impacts of habitat fragmentation and prairie dogs on bird communities within an urban matrix. We performed bird surveys on 20 habitat fragments (10 colonized by prairie dogs, 10 uncolonized by prairie dogs) distributed throughout the Denver metropolitan area, and calculated Shannon-Weiner diversity and richness of all birds and native species, as well as total counts of grassland birds and raptors. Diversity, richness, and counts of many species increased with increasing fragment connectivity, and decreased on fragments isolated for longer periods of time. Avian diversity and richness did not differ between fragments with and without prairie dogs, suggesting that this element of the ecological role of prairie dogs is not fully retained in urban habitat. Future studies of the role of prairie dogs as keystone species in urban systems should include other taxa as well as consider the influence of the urban matrix surrounding prairie dog habitat. Our results emphasize that conservation of urban avian diversity should focus on landscape connectivity as well as local habitat features. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Magle S.B.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Hunt V.M.,University of Illinois at Chicago | Vernon M.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Crooks K.R.,Colorado State University
Biological Conservation | Year: 2012

Despite expanding urban areas and increased awareness of urbanization impacts on wildlife, trends in urban wildlife studies have not been evaluated systematically. We performed a thorough assessment of such research, evaluating urban wildlife publications from 16 leading journals in animal behavior, conservation, ecology, general science, landscape ecology, and wildlife biology from 1971 to 2010. Using a systematic review process, we quantified trends in urban wildlife research over time and in different scientific fields, and also assessed author affiliations, geographic and taxonomic focus, research topics, and study site types. In general, rates of publication for urban wildlife research have been increasing, although still remain low (<2% of publication volume) considering urban growth and its impacts on biodiversity are accelerating globally. Landscape ecology and wildlife biology journals, followed by conservation journals, published the highest percentage of urban wildlife publications, whereas such studies were rare in animal behavior, ecology, and general science journals. Academics were first-authors on ca. 75% of urban wildlife publications, whereas research directed by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private industry were less common, with little evidence of temporal shifts in these patterns. The majority of urban research studied birds or mammals, and nearly all was conducted in North America, Europe, or Australia, as expected given expansive urban development and associated research focus. Animal behavior was the most common scientific topic in urban wildlife research, followed by conservation, landscape ecology, wildlife management, and population ecology. While suburban and exurban development have been recently identified as an important issue, we found no evidence that research in these study systems has increased. Author affiliation, geographic location, taxonomic focus, and research topics of urban wildlife studies were generally similar to those conducted in non-urban systems, although avian studies were more common, and African and community ecology studies less common, in urban compared to non-urban areas. We suggest that the most critical gaps for urban wildlife researchers are in rapidly urbanizing areas in South America, Africa, and Asia, and on understudied taxa such as herpetiles, fish, and arthropods. Research conducted on multiple taxa and across continents is also rare, but will be necessary for global understanding of ecological dynamics of urban systems. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Lehrer E.W.,Urbana University | Lehrer E.W.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Schooley R.L.,Urbana University | Whittington J.K.,Urbana University
Canadian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2012

Understanding effects of urbanization on biodiversity requires integrated assessments of demographic and behavioral responses by species, including urban-adapter species. Past research on mammalian responses to urbanization has emphasized predators, but prey species could respond to additional factors including variation in predation risk. We examined spatial heterogeneity in real and perceived risk across an urbanization gradient by comparing survival rates, causes of mortality, and antipredator behavior of adult woodchucks (Marmota monax (L., 1758)) within an agricultural landscape in Illinois from 2007 to 2009. Survival rates were higher, and effects of urbanization were stronger, during the inactive season. Rural woodchucks primarily died from predation or costs associated with hibernation, whereas urban woodchucks mainly died from vehicle collisions or unknown reasons. Mean levels of antipredator behavior were unrelated to urbanization, but among-individual variation in vigilance levels increased in urban areas, which may reflect increased spatial variation in disturbance levels within urban environments. Distances from burrows while foraging and flight initiation distances also were unrelated to urbanization, suggesting that urban woodchucks were not strongly habituated to humans. Our research provides insights into demographic and behavioral responses to urbanization, and constraints to responses, by an urban-adapter species.

Magle S.B.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Samuel M.D.,U.S. Geological Survey | Van Deelen T.R.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Robinson S.J.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Mathews N.E.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Wildlife disease transmission, at a local scale, can occur from interactions between infected and susceptible conspecifics or from a contaminated environment. Thus, the degree of spatial overlap and rate of contact among deer is likely to impact both direct and indirect transmission of infectious diseases such chronic wasting disease (CWD) or bovine tuberculosis. We identified a strong relationship between degree of spatial overlap (volume of intersection) and genetic relatedness for female white-tailed deer in Wisconsin's area of highest CWD prevalence. We used volume of intersection as a surrogate for contact rates between deer and concluded that related deer are more likely to have contact, which may drive disease transmission dynamics. In addition, we found that age of deer influences overlap, with fawns exhibiting the highest degree of overlap with other deer. Our results further support the finding that female social groups have higher contact among related deer which can result in transmission of infectious diseases. We suggest that control of large social groups comprised of closely related deer may be an effective strategy in slowing the transmission of infectious pathogens, and CWD in particular. © 2013 Magle et al.

Magle S.B.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Lehrer E.W.,Urban Wildlife Institute | Fidino M.,Urban Wildlife Institute
Animal Conservation | Year: 2015

Cities harbor biodiversity, which has complex outcomes, both for humans and other animals. The situation is particularly complicated with carnivorous species such as mesopredators, which elicit strong positive and negative responses from urban residents. As cities are dominated by anthropogenic forces, socioeconomic factors likely play a major ecological role that has gone mostly unexplored for mammalian species. We used a large database of motion-triggered camera imagery to investigate relationships between landscape and socioeconomic features and the distribution of three mammalian mesopredator species in Chicago, IL. Coyotes and raccoons were most likely to colonize less urban sites, and coyotes were least likely to go extinct within sites with a high average per capita income. Opossum showed somewhat different dynamics, with added availability of habitat and increased housing density decreasing odds of new colonization. In general the socioeconomic variables performed at least as well as the habitat factors tested, indicating that there is a significant role of both biotic and abiotic features in driving species distribution in this area. We suggest that new ecological frameworks incorporating both socioeconomic and ecological factors will be needed for the long-term management and conservation of wildlife in urban regions. © 2015 The Zoological Society of London.

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