Main Navigation

U biologists contribute to mammal study

Study explores how mammals fare in human-disturbed environments.

U researchers in the School of Biological Sciences provided significant data for a new study on how mammals fare among human activity. The study, published in Global Change Biology, found that even mammal species that thrived at lower levels of human disturbance struggled in highly urbanized environments.

“We can attribute this to multiple things,” says doctoral student Austin Green, whose dataset of mammal activity in the canyons of the Wasatch Front was one of the largest datasets in the study, “including trouble traversing large swaths of land occupied and developed by humans, such as roads, neighborhoods and fences, insufficient supplemental resources from scraps and garbage and direct persecution by humans.”

Green’s network of around 300 automatic trail cameras watches out for the moose, coyotes, deer and other wildlife that mosey through the canyons. Cameras also track wildlife as they enter the urban and suburban Salt Lake Valley, down to the Jordan River.

“This research provides evidence that urban environments, although important for many species, contribute to a phenomenon where the functions these animals provide to their ecosystems are all similar and shared across species,” Green says, “and the services provided by other species, specifically those provided by large keystone species like apex predators, may be lost. With this knowledge available beforehand, urban planners can better shape these new developments to address the needs of these critical species.”

Read more about the study in a release from UC Santa Cruz here.