Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Biology and University Honors
urban ecology, wildlife, mesopredator, habitat, remote sensing, GIS
Mesopredators--medium-sized predators such as coyote (Canis latrans), common raccoon (Procyon lotor), and Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana)--are well established in cities and live closely with humans. However, we still know relatively little about these animals' habitat selection and behavior as they navigate urban space.
In collaboration with the nationwide Urban Wildlife Information Network (UWIN), we established 27 monitoring sites spanning 50 km of the Portland metropolitan area. Using motion-triggered camera traps active during spring 2022 we collected presence and absence data for three non-domestic mesopredator species: coyote, raccoon, and opossum. Using 40 landscape and sociodemographic attributes to characterize the habitat around each camera trap, we examined relationships between the presence of mesopredators and spatial features such as the level of human development, the type of vegetation, and social factors like median household income. This study aimed to learn (1) what ecological and sociodemographic features of urbanization have a positive or negative relationship with mesopredator presence and (2) if the three target mesopredator species respond to these variables differently. Among our findings, we determined that detections of all target mesopredator species were negatively related to forestation, that opossums and raccoons were always detected within 60 meters of a stream, and that coyotes were more likely to be detected alone than co-occurring with raccoons or opossums. This study aims to inform wildlife-focused initiatives working to create habitat corridors and manage wildlife populations sustainably in an urban environment.
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Storm, Hunter, "Examining Mesopredator Detections in the Portland Metropolitan Area" (2023). University Honors Theses. Paper 1312.
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