Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring

The observers are observed themselves.

Monitoring Urban Wildlife

Cities can be hostile places for wildlife, with threats coming from habitat destruction, roads and traffic, humans, pets and large numbers of invasive species. However, with proper management, urban areas can house a number of important wildlife species, including carnivores, small mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians.

To assess the biodiversity of the greater Chicagoland area, Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute has established monitoring stations within city parks, forest preserves, golf courses and cemeteries across a four-county area, including downtown Chicago and its suburbs. Motion-triggered cameras are deployed four times per year at more than 100 sites to determine which species are present and to assess spatial and long-term patterns in wildlife communities.

Adding a New Dimension: Arthropods

To date, the motion-triggered cameras have mainly detected medium- to large-sized mammals and some birds. In 2012, researchers began opportunistically sampling arthropods (insects, spiders, etc.) found within the metal security cases that house the motion-triggered cameras. Habitat type, urbanization, tree species and season all may have an effect on which arthropod species occupy these security cases.

To further understanding of arthropod communities, Urban Wildlife Institute researchers have also set up a number of pitfall traps at a subset of biodiversity monitoring project sites. Pitfall traps are a very simple method of collecting ground-wandering arthropods. They consist of a cup recessed into the ground with a cover to prevent rain from filling it. These two sampling methods will help researchers at the Urban Wildlife Institute generate a greater understanding of how land-use and habitat fragmentation can affect arthropod populations.

Valuable Knowledge for Conservation

Knowing where Chicago’s urban wildlife is located will help us to better conserve it. This knowledge will pave the way for future studies on the behavior and ecology of specific urban species, helping stakeholders to better manage wildlife conflict.


Staff

Project Leader
Seth Magle, Ph.D.
Director, Urban Wildlife Institute
Liza Watson Lehrer, M.S.
Urban Wildlife Ecologist, Urban Wildlife Institute
Julia Kilgour is project coordinator at Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute.

Julia Kilgour, M.S.
Adjunct Scientist, Urban Wildlife Institute

Mason Fidino
Coordinator of Wildlife Management, Urban Wildlife Institute
Patrick Wolff, M.S. is a research technician in Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute and Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology

Patrick Wolff
Research Technician, Urban Wildlife Institute and Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology

 

Multimedia

Field Work in the City
Cities may not be pristine landscapes, but plenty of animals thrive in urban settings, biologist Mason Fidino shares. See how zoo scientists are using more than 120 motion-triggered cameras to monitor local wildlife from the Loop to the burbs.

Window into the Wild
Learn how camera traps help provide zoo researchers with unprecedented knowlege and understanding of animal behavior.

Urban Wildlife Institute scientists share how far different animals venture into the city in this infographic produced for Lincoln Park Zoo magazine!

The Wildlife Next Door
Will you see a coyote in your backyard? How about a red fox? Urban Wildlife Institute scientists share how far different animals venture into the city in this infographic produced for Lincoln Park Zoo magazine! (3.2 MB JPG)

Deer, coyotes, opossums—when are urban animals active around Chicago? Urban Wildlife Institute scientists tell us in this special infographic produced for Lincoln Park Zoo magazine!

Visualizing Animal Activity Around the Clock
Deer, coyotes, opossums—when are urban animals active around Chicago? Urban Wildlife Institute scientists tell us in this special infographic produced for Lincoln Park Zoo magazine! (4.8 MB JPG)

An image of an owl captured by motion-triggered camera as part of Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring being conducted by Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute.

Documenting Raptors in the City
Seth Magle, director of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute, shares some fascinating avian observations from the Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring Project’s summer research.

Cold, Hard Science
Turkeys. Deer. Red-bellied woodpeckers. Ecologist Seth Magle shares Chicago-area wildlife sightings from the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring project, an attempt to gather the most thorough portrait of urban wildlife ever collected.

Camera Trap Slideshow
Members of Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute recently installed camera traps at secret locations in wooded areas around Chicago. See a slideshow of wildlife they "captured."
Lincoln Park Zoo's Nature Boardwalk blog lets you follow along as native plants and animals are spotted in the zoo's urban oasis. Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo Blog
Follow along as native plants and animals are spotted in Lincoln Park Zoo's urban oasis.