On Thursday, August 9, 2018, the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute (U.W.I.) announced institutions in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and Wilmington, Delaware had joined the Urban Wildlife Information Network (U.W.I.N.). These were the City of Edmonton and the University of Alberta in Edmonton and The Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington. The municipal government of Edmonton and University of Alberta project constitutes the first foreign member of U.W.I.N. and The Brandywine Zoo is the first Association of Zoos and Aquariums (A.Z.A.)-accredited zoo member of U.W.I.N. The network also has a pilot program in South Africa and hopes to have global reach by 2020.
“These new members represent endless possibilities on behalf of wildlife,” stated Urban Wildlife Institute Director Seth Magle, Ph.D. “As we begin to analyze the similarities and differences across cities and countries, we can truly begin to understand human-wildlife conflict and implement solutions to better coexist with species right in our backyards.”
In 2012, the U.W.I. launched the biodiversity study in Chicago. Four times a year, biologists install over 100 camera across Chicagoland along three fifty-kilometer transects and the lakefront. The cameras – many strapped to trees and posts in parks, forest preserves, cemeteries, and golf courses – are motion-triggered and snap up digital images. Currently, over 100,000 photos are amassed each year. Amateur naturalists whom U.W.I. labels “Citizen scientists” help researchers (actual scientists) tag photos for data analysis by clocking through digital photos on the Website http://chicagowildlifewatch.org/ and identifying animal species captured in pixels. With over 1,000,000 photos gathered in Chicago alone, U.W.I.N. called upon partners at Pariveda Solutions to help with a cloud-based data-management system. Interns at Pariveda are creating a platform that members around the world can store and visualize data, which is critically important to understand global patterns in wildlife behavior and distribution. In addition, Pariveda is using new algorithms that quickly identify and remove humans and blank photos from the dataset, increasing efficiency and allowing U.W.I.N. to make faster recommendations on behalf of urban wildlife.
“Developing a cloud-based web application for UWIN has been an awesome opportunity to share our technical knowledge and make their species monitoring processes easier,” stated Pariveda Manager Nathan Clemente. “We’ve been able to build a solution that focuses on what information UWIN needs most and give valuable insight into the types of trends that all this urban wildlife photo data across the world has to offer.”
Figure 1 Credit: Urban Wildlife Institute, Lincoln Park Zoo Caption: The Urban Wildlife Institute contributed this picture of a doe and a fawn.
Figure 2 Credit: Urban Wildlife Institute, Lincoln Park Zoo Caption: This woman is setting up an Urban Wildlife Institute camera trap.
Figure 3 Credit: Urban Wildlife Institute, Lincoln Park Zoo Caption: This woman is setting up an Urban Wildlife Institute camera trap on Northerly Island in Burnham Park.
The first findings from U.W.I.N. have been submitted to Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. “Deer have been spotted in every city. However, the largest species caught on camera to date has been moose, spotted by our Canadian neighbors!” Magle stated.
All U.W.I.N. Participating Cities and Members
|Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute|
|The Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University|
|University of Wisconsin – Madison|
|Kansas State University|
Fort Collins, Colorado
|Colorado State University|
|University of Colorado Denver|
St. Edward’s University
|Long Beach, California||
California State University Long Beach
|Los Angeles, California||
National Park Service
|Iowa City, Iowa||
University of Iowa
The Brandywine Zoo
|Edmonton, Alberta, Canada||
City of Edmonton and University of Alberta
Figure 4 Credit: City of Edmonton and University of Alberta Caption: The City of Edmonton and University of Alberta contributed this nighttime picture of a moose.
“We’re pleased to be a part of the collaborative effort to understand wildlife in cities and excited to find out more about our own city. So far, we’ve detected moose, deer, porcupines, and coyotes, but not raccoons…yet! We hope to collect information about urban wildlife to support better ecological practices in Edmonton and beyond,” stated co-leads Catherine Shier (City of Edmonton) and Colleen St. Clair (University of Alberta).
Figure 5 Credit: The Brandywine Zoo Caption: The Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, Delaware contributed this surprising nighttime picture of a fox and two deer.
“This is only the second in-situ research project that The Brandywine Zoo has ever undertaken in our 113 year history. As a very small, 4.7 acre zoo, it’s very exciting to know that we can have a great impact with our research. With all our projects, current and future, we hope to be able to do more than just study species locally, but to also contribute to an international data set that helps conservation scientists gain a better understanding of species. With this being a new project for Delaware, we’re very interested to learn how our species compare to those of other cities’ diversity and abundance across the broad array of urban ecosystems involved in UWIN,” stated Jacque Williamson, Curator of Education, at The Brandywine Zoo.
Figure 6 Credit: University of Colorado Denver Caption: The University of Colorado Denver contributed this picture of a coyote.
“University of Colorado Denver has integrated the UWIN data collection into our undergraduate biology curriculum. Approximately 600 Denver students per year are helping to tag photos and collect data. Not only does this serve the scientific community, it helps students get real research experience in their early careers,” stated Laurel Hartley, Ph.D., Associate Director of Integrative Biology at University of Colorado Denver.
Figure 7 Credit: California State University Long Beach Caption: California State University Long Beach contributed this picture of two coyotes.
“The urban Los Angeles region is bursting with biodiversity but experiences especially high rates of conflict between coyotes and humans, including attacks on both pets and humans. We hope this data can help us understand how this unique urban landscape influences carnivore movement and behavioral interactions,” stated Theodore Stankowich, Ph.D., California State University Long Beach.
“Austin is a city that prides itself on its wildlife-friendliness, abundant green spaces, and access to nature. We’re thrilled to partner with UWIN on this project to examine urban wildlife distributions and better understand the factors that make a city truly wildlife-friendly,” stated Amy Belaire, Ph.D., Austin Urban Conservation Scientist & Program Manager, Nature Conservancy of Texas.
Figure 8 Credit: Colorado State University Caption: Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado contributed this picture of a deer.
“We are excited for this unprecedented research opportunity, and as partners in the Fort Collins, Colo.-area, we look forward to the myriad research discoveries this initiative will bring,” stated Christopher J. Schell, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Colorado State University.
Figure 9 Credit: The Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University Caption: Butler University in Indianapolis contributed this picture of a red fox.
“Butler University is excited to participated in the UWIN project to help build a national database on urban wildlife. Scientists have only recently begun to learn of the many unique properties of urban ecosystems and the national UWIN project should go a long way to enhance our understanding. We have really just scratched the surface of what we can otentially learn from this large-scale project,” stated Carmen Salsbury, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Science at Butler University.
“We are excited to contribute our data to UWIN. To understand the effects of urban landscapes on biodiversity, it is important that we extend our research beyond regional case studies and begin to test hypothesis on continental or world-wide scales,” stated Adam Ahlers, Assistant Professor at Kansas State University.
Figure 10 Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison Caption: The University of Wisconsin-Madison contributed this picture of a deer.