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We study how wildlife communities respond to urbanization to help create cities that balance the needs of people and nature 

Check out our current projects below or browse our publications.


Land sparing or land sharing for cities?

People in cities need housing, but does the spatial pattern of that housing affect biodiversity? Especially in the suburbs and exurbs, it may matter a great deal whether we spare land for biodiversity by building compact development or share built land with biodiversity in dispersed development. Our work shows that land sparing is best, but only in certain contexts.

Why are common urban species common?

Some species, like the black vulture, North American river otter, and coyote, are becoming more and more common in urban regions. Urban ecological research typically doesn't focus on these species precisely because of their success. But what makes these species so successful? Which areas do they frequent and which do they avoid and why? Learning more about the behaviors and strategies of common urban species and how they interact with people expands our broader understanding of urban ecosystem functioning.


The Likeable, Therefore Abundant Hypothesis

Our work has shown that resident forest bird species that reach relatively high abundances in urban landscapes are granivorous or frugivorous, cavity-nesting, and have larger clutch sizes and more fledglings per clutch. It is assumed that species with these traits are the passive beneficiaries of specific food and nesting resources available in cities and suburbs. But what if residents actively manage their yards to welcome the birds that they like? The Likeable, Therefore Abundant Hypothesis suggests this interaction plays an important role in urban avian population persistence.  

Do urban ecological patterns differ across cities?

Most urban ecology research seeks to understand ecological patterns and processes in single cities. It's unclear whether this understanding can be generalized across cities if city characteristics, such as human population size, extent, and age, play an important role. Robust investigations of ecological relationships in multiple cities that vary in structure are needed to elucidate general urban ecological patterns and have the potential to inform scaling laws among cities, such that managers of smaller-sized cities may look to larger cities as analogs of their future selves.

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