Special Issue "Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Ecology and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 September 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Bryony Tolhurst
Website
Guest Editor
Ecology, Conservation and Zoonosis Research and Enterprise Group, University of Brighton, UK
Interests: behavioural ecology of vertebrates in anthropogenic environments; biodiversity conservation and mitigation of human–wildlife conflict; mammals in urban landscapes, community dynamics and disease transmission; niche partitioning between foxes, badgers, domestic cats and hedgehogs; foxes and the intermediate gastropod hosts of helminth diseases; developing novel technologies for investigating urban ecological processes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Urbanisation is a major cause of land-use change worldwide, and urban ecology is a topical, recent, and rapidly advancing research area. Mammals comprise proportionally low biodiversity relative to other taxa but can be highly visible in urban areas, and their presence may be controversial. Urban environments present challenges and opportunities for them, with some generalist species thriving in towns and cities and others suffering declines. Urban areas can provide beneficial microclimates and resources for mammals but may also threaten populations due to infrastructure that fragments populations (e.g., buildings and other paved surfaces) or directly increases mortality (e.g., road traffic or misadventure). Proximity to wild mammals can create real or perceived negative effects on people, which may result in persecution. Conversely, many urban dwellers report increased wellbeing from interactions with mammalian wildlife, which they may actively encourage, e.g., via supplementary feeding.

We invite original contributions that elucidate how human activity within or on the periphery of urban areas affects wild mammals, and/or what approaches can be used to mitigate negative impacts. This may include but is not restricted to: behavioural adaptations to urban environments; genetic effects of urbanisation on mammal populations; effects of supplementary feeding on population size, health and welfare; spread of disease between humans, pets and wild species; movement corridors, green spaces and other habitat modification; social impacts and education; and involvement of citizens in monitoring wild mammals.

Dr. Bryony Tolhurst
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • urbanisation
  • mammals
  • conservation
  • human-wildlife interactions
  • human–wildlife conflict
  • animal welfare
  • behaviour
  • populations
  • disease

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Ecological and Behavioral Drivers of Supplemental Feeding Use by Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus in a Peri-Urban Context
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2088; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112088 - 10 Nov 2020
Abstract
Winter supplemental feeding of ungulates potentially alters their use of resources and ecological interactions, yet relatively little is known about the patterns of feeding sites use by target populations. We used camera traps to continuously monitor winter and spring feeding site use in [...] Read more.
Winter supplemental feeding of ungulates potentially alters their use of resources and ecological interactions, yet relatively little is known about the patterns of feeding sites use by target populations. We used camera traps to continuously monitor winter and spring feeding site use in a roe deer population living in a peri-urban area in Northern Italy. We combined circular statistics with generalized additive and linear mixed models to analyze the diel and seasonal pattern of roe deer visits to feeding sites, and the behavioral drivers influencing visit duration. Roe deer visits peaked at dawn and dusk, and decreased from winter to spring when vegetation regrows and temperature increases. Roe deer mostly visited feeding sites solitarily; when this was not the case, they stayed longer at the site, especially when conspecifics were eating, but maintained a bimodal diel pattern of visits. These results support an opportunistic use of feeding sites, following seasonal cycles and the roe deer circadian clock. Yet, the attractiveness of these artificial resources has the potential to alter intra-specific relationships, as competition for their use induces gatherings and may extend the contact time between individuals, with potential behavioral and epidemiological consequences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Weekend Effect on Urban Bat Activity Suggests Fine Scale Human-Induced Bat Movements
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1636; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091636 - 11 Sep 2020
Abstract
In the urban environment, wildlife faces novel human disturbances in unique temporal patterns. The weekend effect describes that human activities on weekends trigger changes in the environment and impact wildlife negatively. Reduced occurrence, altered behaviors, and/or reduced fitness have been found in birds, [...] Read more.
In the urban environment, wildlife faces novel human disturbances in unique temporal patterns. The weekend effect describes that human activities on weekends trigger changes in the environment and impact wildlife negatively. Reduced occurrence, altered behaviors, and/or reduced fitness have been found in birds, ungulates, and meso-carnivores due to the weekend effect. We aimed to investigate if urban bat activity would differ on weekends from weekdays. We analyzed year-round bat acoustic monitoring data collected from two sites near the city center and two sites in the residential area/park complex in the city periphery. We constructed generalized linear models and found that bat activity was significantly lower on weekends as compared to weekdays during spring and summer at the site in the open space near the city center. In contrast, during the same seasons, the sites in the city periphery showed increased bat activity on weekends. Hourly bat activity overnight suggested that bats might move from the city center to the periphery on weekends. We demonstrated the behavioral adaptability in urban wildlife for co-existing with human. We recommend that urban planning should implement practices such as adding new greenspaces and/or preserving old-growth vegetation to form continuous greenways from the city center to the city periphery as corridors to facilitate bat movements and reduce possible human-wildlife conflict. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Decline in Distribution and Abundance: Urban Hedgehogs under Pressure
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1606; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091606 - 09 Sep 2020
Abstract
Increasing urbanization and densification are two of the largest global threats to biodiversity. However, certain species thrive in urban spaces. Hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus have been found in higher densities in green areas of settlements as compared to rural spaces. With recent studies pointing [...] Read more.
Increasing urbanization and densification are two of the largest global threats to biodiversity. However, certain species thrive in urban spaces. Hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus have been found in higher densities in green areas of settlements as compared to rural spaces. With recent studies pointing to dramatically declining hedgehog numbers in rural areas, we pose the question: how do hedgehogs fare in urban spaces, and do these spaces act as refuges? In this study, recent (2016–2018) and past (1992) hedgehog abundance and distribution were compared across the city of Zurich, Switzerland using citizen science methods, including: footprint tunnels, capture-mark recapture, and incidental sightings. Our analyses revealed consistent negative trends: Overall hedgehog distribution decreased by 17.6% ± 4.7%, whereas abundance declined by 40.6% (mean abundance 32 vs. 19 hedgehogs/km2, in past and recent time, respectively), with one study plot even showing a 91% decline in this period (78 vs. 7 hedgehogs/km2, respectively). We discuss possible causes of this rapid decline: increased urban densification, reduction of insect biomass, and pesticide use, as well as the role of increasing populations of badgers (a hedgehog predator) and parasites or diseases. Our results suggest that hedgehogs are now under increasing pressure not only in rural but also in urban areas, their former refuges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
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Open AccessArticle
Eurasian Beaver (Castor fiber) Winter Foraging Preferences in Northern Poland—The Role of Woody Vegetation Composition and Anthropopression Level
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1376; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081376 - 08 Aug 2020
Abstract
We studied beavers’ dietary preferences and the role of several factors (such as plant species, size and anthropopression level) that affect the beavers’ foraging in northern Poland. Woody plants along the river were measured and classified according to species in six 100 m-long [...] Read more.
We studied beavers’ dietary preferences and the role of several factors (such as plant species, size and anthropopression level) that affect the beavers’ foraging in northern Poland. Woody plants along the river were measured and classified according to species in six 100 m-long transects that were characterized by a diversified human disturbance level. Ivlev’s electivity index was used to present the beavers’ preferences for various plant species and sizes, and the generalized linear model was used to assess the significance of studied factors in beavers’ browsing choices. Most popular in the beavers’ diets were willows (Salix), maples (Acer) and alder (Alnus), but only willows and maples were preferred. We noted a decrease in the beavers’ foraging preference in parallel to an increase in the shoot diameter; plants with a diameter below 10 cm were preferred. All factors included in the generalized linear model (GLM) were significant in shaping the beavers’ foraging choices. A negative correlation between the shoot diameter and the human disturbance level was found, but the species composition of the browsed woody plants was the same in each transect. Beavers’ foraging preferences, as observed in our study, were similar to those described in the literature and confirmed the role of woody species and their diameters in shaping the beavers’ diet. We also suggested the potential role of anthropopression in the shaping of the beavers’ foraging behaviors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Spatial Aspects of Gardens Drive Ranging in Urban Foxes (Vulpes vulpes): The Resource Dispersion Hypothesis Revisited
Animals 2020, 10(7), 1167; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071167 - 09 Jul 2020
Abstract
Red foxes are a well-established species of urban ecosystems in the UK and worldwide. Understanding the spatial ecology of foxes in urban landscapes is important for enhancement of urban biodiversity and effective disease management. The Resource Dispersion Hypothesis (RDH) holds that territory (home [...] Read more.
Red foxes are a well-established species of urban ecosystems in the UK and worldwide. Understanding the spatial ecology of foxes in urban landscapes is important for enhancement of urban biodiversity and effective disease management. The Resource Dispersion Hypothesis (RDH) holds that territory (home range) size is linked to distribution and richness of habitat patches such that aggregation of rich resources should be negatively associated with range size. Here, we tested the RDH on a sample of 20 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in the city of Brighton and Hove. We focused on residential garden areas, as foxes were associated with these in previous studies. We equipped 12 male and 8 female foxes with GPS collars recording at 15 min intervals during discrete seasons over four years. We regressed fox core area size against garden size, number of garden patches, and edge density within and between patches as extracted from GIS in a series of bivariate linear mixed models. We found that foxes used smaller core areas where gardens were large and well-connected and larger core areas where numerous, smaller gardens were fragmented by internal barriers (e.g., fences, walls) or bisected by other habitats such as managed grassland or built-up areas. Our findings confirm the RDH and help to inform future urban planning for wildlife. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
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Open AccessArticle
Map-A-Mole: Greenspace Area Influences the Presence and Abundance of the European Mole Talpa europaea in Urban Habitats
Animals 2020, 10(6), 1097; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10061097 - 25 Jun 2020
Abstract
The European mole Talpa europaea is common across much of Britain. It has a unique fossorial lifestyle, and evidence of its presence is readily identified through the presence of characteristic molehills. Although molehills are often a common sight in urban greenspaces, moles are [...] Read more.
The European mole Talpa europaea is common across much of Britain. It has a unique fossorial lifestyle, and evidence of its presence is readily identified through the presence of characteristic molehills. Although molehills are often a common sight in urban greenspaces, moles are remarkably understudied, with very few studies to date exploring the urban ecology of moles. Here, we investigate if factors such as greenspace (largely urban parks and playing fields) area, intensity of management, distance to nearest patch, amount of time the patch had been isolated from other green patches, and the amount of urbanization (constructed surfaces) surrounding the patch, influence the distribution and abundance of urban moles. Mole signs (hills and surface runs) were counted in all discrete urban greenspaces (excluding domestic gardens and one private golf course) within an 89.5 km2 area in the UK town of Reading. We found that 17 out of 59 surveyed sites contained moles, with their presence being recorded in greenspaces with a minimum patch area of approximately 0.1 km2 (10 ha). Where present, the abundance of mole territories in the greenspaces was associated with both the area of greenspace and degree of urbanization within 150 m of the patch boundary. While the former was not surprising, the latter outcome may be a consequence of sites with an increased risk of flooding being home to fewer moles, and the surrounding area is also less likely to be built upon. This case study highlights how choices made in designing urban green infrastructure will determine which species survive in urban areas long into the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
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Open AccessArticle
Human–Wildlife Conflicts in Krakow City, Southern Poland
Animals 2020, 10(6), 1014; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10061014 - 10 Jun 2020
Abstract
Efforts to reduce human-wildlife-conflict are integral to wildlife management and conservation in urban habitats. In our study, we identified the HWC situations in urban areas of Krakow city, based on animal-vehicle collisions, intrusion to property, and damages. Hot spot analysis and Moran’s Index [...] Read more.
Efforts to reduce human-wildlife-conflict are integral to wildlife management and conservation in urban habitats. In our study, we identified the HWC situations in urban areas of Krakow city, based on animal-vehicle collisions, intrusion to property, and damages. Hot spot analysis and Moran’s Index were used to identify the location of maximum potential conflict. We analysed 2512 incidents in which animals (of which 85% included mammals and 15% birds) were involved in conflict situations between 2007 and 2013. A significant seasonal variation was observed among the animals. We also identified roe deer (50.23%), red fox (22.80%) and wild boar (11.40%), as the three prominent conflicted animals. Getis–Ord Gi* analysis was used to identify spatial clusters of conflict. A significant spatial association was found in the location of clusters of hot spots in specific land-use based on Moran’s Index. Hot spots of roe deer and wild boar were high in grasslands and in forest and for red fox in built-up area. The results underscore the notion that conservation and wildlife management efforts must take into account differences in the seasonality of HWC among species. This information can be used to inform mitigation strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) on European Hedgehog Activity at Supplementary Feeding Stations
Animals 2020, 10(5), 768; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050768 - 28 Apr 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Artificial light at night (ALAN) can have negative consequences for a wide range of taxa. However, the effects on nocturnal mammals other than bats are poorly understood. A citizen science camera trapping experiment was therefore used to assess the effect of ALAN on [...] Read more.
Artificial light at night (ALAN) can have negative consequences for a wide range of taxa. However, the effects on nocturnal mammals other than bats are poorly understood. A citizen science camera trapping experiment was therefore used to assess the effect of ALAN on the activity of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) at supplementary feeding stations in UK gardens. A crossover design was implemented at 33 gardens with two treatments—artificial light and darkness—each of which lasted for one week. The order of treatment depended on the existing lighting regime at the feeding station: dark treatments were applied first at dark feeding stations, whereas light treatments were used first where the station was already illuminated. Although temporal changes in activity patterns in response to the treatments were noted in some individuals, the direction of the effects was not consistent. Similarly, there was no overall impact of ALAN on the presence or feeding activities of hedgehogs in gardens where supplementary feeding stations were present. These findings are somewhat reassuring insofar as they demonstrate no net negative effect on a species thought to be in decline, in scenarios where the animals are already habituated to supplementary feeding. However, further research is needed to examine long-term effects and the effects of lighting on hedgehog prey, reproductive success and predation risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
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Open AccessArticle
The Prevalence of Endoparasites of Free Ranging Cats (Felis catus) from Urban Habitats in Southern Poland
Animals 2020, 10(4), 748; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040748 - 24 Apr 2020
Abstract
Growing urbanization leads to an increased risk of parasite spread in densely inhabited areas. Free-ranging cats can be locally numerous and come into frequent contact with both wildlife and humans. Cats are thus expected to contribute to parasitic disease transmission. In our study, [...] Read more.
Growing urbanization leads to an increased risk of parasite spread in densely inhabited areas. Free-ranging cats can be locally numerous and come into frequent contact with both wildlife and humans. Cats are thus expected to contribute to parasitic disease transmission. In our study, we investigated the prevalence of endoparasites in free ranging cats in urban areas of Kraków city, based on necropsy of road-killed cats in relation to sex and diet of cat, season and habitat type. We found that 62% of 81 cats were infected with endoparasites with Toxocara cati being the most prevalent. In total, we identified seven parasite species. The number of parasite species was higher in suburban habitats and aside from Eucoleus aerophilus the prevalence of all parasites was higher in cats from suburban areas than in the individuals living in the city urban core. The prey of examined cats included mostly rodents, followed by soricomorphs and birds, which can all serve as paratenic hosts. Based on our results, we suggest that cats in urban areas should be considered as a serious potential zoonotic threat. Implementation of proper veterinary control and wider education on the topic is recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropogenic Impacts on Urban Mammals)
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