Mostly Trapping

Effects of urbanization on carnivores in the New York metropolitan area
Dec 12, 2019 09:08 ET
The presence of human activity and development affects the distribution and behavior of carnivore species in various ways. It is necessary to examine the effects of urbanization and associated habitat fragmentation on the spatial ecology of predators, in order to develop a comprehensive understanding and formulate a proactive approach towards biodiversity protection in such areas. In this study, we observed patterns of occurrence and activity of carnivores in four preserves in metropolitan the New York and New Jersey region. Over the course of a ten-month trail camera study, 104 randomly positioned camera stations (5642 trap nights) yielded 793 total captures of 7 species: black bear (Ursus americanus), bobcat (Lynx rufus), coyote (Canis latrans), opossum (Didelphis virginiana), raccoon (Procyon lotor), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), and striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). We found correlations between captures and level of human development, preserve size, and time of day of capture. Further, we found that the relative abundance of carnivores was higher in preserves with a higher level of surrounding development, suggesting the use of these habitat fragments as refuges. Coyotes and raccoons were more likely to be observed in areas with higher development. All carnivores combined were more likely to be observed at night in areas wither higher development, indicating a temporal response of carnivores to human activity. Our results emphasize the value of preserving intact habitat fragments in urban and suburban areas, and strongly suggest that carnivore use of parkland and greenspace should be monitored continuously to measure impacts on these species as conversion of surrounding land persists.