Patterns of income and urbanization linked to mammal biodiversity

September 01, 2021

Many city dwellers seldom have the experience of watching deer walk through their yards, whether for a lack of deer or a lack of a yard. In cities, exposure to nature and greenspace is highly variable by neighborhood. Many urban ecologists propose that income and biodiversity are linked by a so-called luxury effect,  in which more biodiversity occurs in more landscaped, affluent suburban neighborhoods.

New research suggests that urban intensity,  or the degree to which wild lands have been converted to densely-populated, paved-over grey cities, strongly influences the diversity of medium to large mammals in an area. The study, published in August in the journal Global Change Biology,  was co-authored by Christopher Schell, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. It was conducted with researchers from the University of Utah, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and other partner organizations. 

Schell’s research focuses on how cities and social inequities affect human-wildlife interactions, and how socioeconomic disparities influence the spatial distribution of urban wildlife. His recent research has described how exposure to humans have shaped coyote traits. 

Read the full University of Utah press release.