Students work on Urban Mammal Distribution in Iowa City, IA and surrounding landscapes.

Jul 10, 2017

Urban Mammal Distribution in Iowa City, IA and surrounding landscapes. 

Brandon MacDougall, Ph.D. Student, Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences 

Undergraduate Assistant(s): Emma Miller-Shindelar 

Advisor: Dr. Heather Sander

This on-going research project aims to assess the mammal populations in Johnson County, Iowa, in order to better understand the spatial distribution of mammal species along an urban-rural gradient. Forty camera traps have been evenly distributed across three perpendicular transects encompassing Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty and surrounding rural areas. The camera trap locations vary from private properties to city parks to semi-natural areas, such as the Hawkey Wildlife Area. After their initial placement, cameras will remain on location for 30 days during, collecting 'data' (photographs) on mammal species diversity and abundances. The cameras will be begin their initial season of data collection in July, and be replaced for additional 30-day periods during October, January and April and in the same months for 2018 and 2019. Multiple landscape and socio-economic variables will be measured at each site as well, and these variables can be correlated to mammal distribution along the urban-rural gradient of Johnson County. A secondary goal of this study is to share data with partners in the Urban Wildlife Information Network (, to quantify and assess the similarities and differences in wildlife communities within and among cities. 


Research photos

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