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2021
Spotswood, E.; Benjamin, M.; Stoneburner, L.; Wheeler, M. 2021. Nature inequity and higher COVID-19 case rates in less green neighbourhoods in the United States. Nature Sustainability 4 (10).

Nature inequity and higher COVID-19 case rates in less green neighbourhoods in the United StatesUrban nature—such as greenness and parks—can alleviate distress and provide space for safe recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, nature is often less available in low-income populations and communities of colour—the same communities hardest hit by COVID-19. In analyses of two datasets, we quantified inequity in greenness and park proximity across all urbanized areas in the United States and linked greenness and park access to COVID-19 case rates for ZIP codes in 17 states. Areas with majority persons of colour had both higher case rates and less greenness. Furthermore, when controlling for sociodemographic variables, an increase of 0.1 in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index was associated with a 4.1% decrease in COVID-19 incidence rates (95% confidence interval: 0.9–6.8%). Across the United States, block groups with lower-income and majority persons of colour are less green and have fewer parks. Our results demonstrate that the communities most impacted by COVID-19 also have the least nature nearby. Given that urban nature is associated with both human health and biodiversity, these results have far-reaching implications both during and beyond the pandemic.

Related data: https://www.sfei.org/data/nature-equity-covid-2021

 

Iknayan, K.; Wheeler, M.; Safran, S. M.; Young, J. S.; Spotswood, E. 2021. What makes urban parks good for California quail? Evaluating park suitability, species persistence, and the potential for reintroduction into a large urban national park. Journal of Applied Ecology.

  1. Preserving and restoring wildlife in urban areas benefits both urban ecosystems and the well-being of urban residents. While urban wildlife conservation is a rapidly developing field, the majority of conservation research has been performed in wildland areas. Understanding the applicability of wildland science to urban populations and the relative importance of factors limiting species persistence are of critical importance to identifying prescriptive management strategies for restoring wildlife to urban parks.
  2. We evaluated how habitat fragmentation, habitat quality and mortality threats influence species occupancy and persistence in urban parks. We chose California quail Callipepla californica as a representative species with potential to respond to urban conservation. We used publicly available eBird data to construct occupancy models of quail in urban parks across their native range, and present an application using focal parks interested in exploring quail reintroduction.
  3. Urban parks had a 0.23 ± 0.02 probability of quail occupancy, with greater occupancy in larger parks that were less isolated from potential source populations, had higher shrub cover and had lower impervious cover. Less isolated parks had higher colonization rates, while larger parks had lower extinction rates. These results align with findings across urban ecology showing greater biodiversity in larger and more highly connected habitat patches.
  4. A case study highlighted that interventions to increase effective park size and improve connectivity would be most influential for two highly urban focal parks, while changes to internal land cover would have a relatively small impact. Low joint extinction probability in the parks (0.010 ± 0.013) indicated reintroduced populations could persist for some time.
  5. Synthesis and applications. We show how eBird data can be harnessed to evaluate the responsiveness of wildlife to urban parks of variable size, connectivity and habitat quality, highlighting what management actions are most needed. Using California quail as an example, we found park size, park isolation and presence of coyotes are all important drivers of whether quail can colonize and persist in parks. Our results suggest reintroducing quail to parks could be successful provided parks are large enough to support quail, and management actions are taken to enhance regional connectivity or periodic assisted colonization is used to supplement local populations.
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2020
Grossinger, R. M.; Wheeler, M.; Spotswood, E.; Ndayishimiye, E.; Carbone, G.; Galt, R. 2020. Sports and urban biodiversity. . SFEI Contribution No. 1028.

SFEI collaborated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to create a guide to incorporating nature into urban sports, from the development of Olympic cities to the design and management of the many sport fields throughout the urban landscape. We applied the Urban Biodiversity Framework developed in Making Nature’s City to the world of sports, with case studies drawn from international sport federations, Olympic cities, and individual sport teams and venues around the world. The guide is part of IUCN’s ongoing collaboration with IOC to develop best practices around biodiversity for the sporting industry.

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