Urbanization, climate and species traits shape mammal communities from local to continental scales

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Nature Ecology and Evolution


Human-driven environmental changes shape ecological communities from local to global scales. Within cities, landscape-scale patterns and processes and species characteristics generally drive local-scale wildlife diversity. However, cities differ in their structure, species pools, geographies and histories, calling into question the extent to which these drivers of wildlife diversity are predictive at continental scales. In partnership with the Urban Wildlife Information Network, we used occurrence data from 725 sites located across 20 North American cities and a multi-city, multi-species occupancy modelling approach to evaluate the effects of ecoregional characteristics and mammal species traits on the urbanization–diversity relationship. Among 37 native terrestrial mammal species, regional environmental characteristics and species traits influenced within-city effects of urbanization on species occupancy and community composition. Species occupancy and diversity were most negatively related to urbanization in the warmer, less vegetated cities. Additionally, larger-bodied species were most negatively impacted by urbanization across North America. Our results suggest that shifting climate conditions could worsen the effects of urbanization on native wildlife communities, such that conservation strategies should seek to mitigate the combined effects of a warming and urbanizing world.

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