Examining the occurrence of mammal species in natural areas within a rapidly urbanizing region of Texas, USA | Land Portal | Securing Land Rights Through Open Data

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Date of publication: 
December 2016
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In much of the United States and elsewhere, urbanization continues to transform landscapes. In central Texas, anthropogenic conversion of land is due in part to a rapidly growing population in the Austin and San Antonio metro areas and the subsequent infrastructure and resources needed to support that growth. Protected natural areas adjacent to urbanized landscapes are often intended to mitigate the impact of land development by serving as wildlife habitat. To maximize the potential of this habitat, we must assess how urbanization influences the occurrence of species in these natural areas (e.g., parks, greenspaces, preserves). We used motion-activated cameras to survey 72 sites (points) across six different regions throughout the urban corridor from San Antonio to Austin. Using occupancy modeling, we examined the influence of ten different urbanization factors (model covariates) on the occurrence of a variety of medium-sized mammal species. Generalist species, such as raccoons and opossums, had an increased probability of occurrence at sites with greater urban influence and were most likely to occur in smaller more urbanized study areas. Ringtails and grey foxes appeared to be unaffected by urbanization and were equally likely to occur across all sites. None of the other examined species were found to have a conclusively positive or negative response to urbanization. Knowledge of the effect of urbanization on wildlife will be important in evaluating current preserves as well as planning future preserves. Our study suggests that natural areas within urbanizing landscapes can be effective in providing habitat for some wildlife species.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
Haverland, Matthew B. Joseph A. Veech
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