Vegetation Structure and Complexity Variation Between Urban Green Spaces and its Effect on Urban Wildlife Occupancy

Evynn Davis Butler University, Cindy Cifuentes Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Julia Angstmann Butler University
Rapidly increasing urbanization in concentrated areas can lead to more human-wildlife interactions, both positive and negative, and creates unique opportunities and challenges for wildlife species. Understanding how wildlife use urbanized areas can inform land management practices to support urban wildlife and minimize negative interactions. Indy Wildlife Watch is a wildlife monitoring study composed of 50+ motion-sensored cameras placed in a variety of habitat types (park, remnant forest, cemetery, golf courses, etc.) along two transects spanning an urban-to-suburban development gradient. Cameras are set out seasonally four times a year and wildlife species are identified for all captured images and logged in a database. To assess the influence of habitat complexity and vegetation structure on wildlife occupancy, a 10-meter diameter circular plot with nested sampling was established at 31 camera locations in the fall of 2017 and 2018 to quantify cover and density of vegetation strata using line and intercept, cover frequency, and point centered quarter methods. Camera locations showed key differences in tree canopy cover and density, cover of invasive honeysuckle, total tree basal area, shrub cover, grass and woody debris cover, and number of boles. Additional analyses are underway to understand how wildlife occupancy is influenced by vegetation structure and cover, which will ultimately help cities better manage green spaces to foster positive human-animal interactions and conserve urban wildlife.
Sustainability, Urban Ecology & Environmental Studies
Oral Presentation

When & Where

11:15 AM
Jordan Hall 276