Document Type


Publication Date



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Forestry and Natural Resources


Developed areas are thought to have low species diversity, low animal abundance, few native predators, and thus low resilience and ecological function. Working with citizen scientist volunteers to survey mammals at 1427 sites across two development gradients (wild-rural-exurban- suburban-urban) and four plot types (large forests, small forest fragments, open areas and residential yards) in the eastern US, we show that developed areas actually had significantly higher or statistically similar mammalian occupancy, relative abundance, richness and diversity compared to wild areas. However, although some animals can thrive in suburbia, conservation of wild areas and preservation of green space within cities are needed to protect sensitive species and to give all species the chance to adapt and persist in the Anthropocene.


Source Citation

Parsons, A. W., Forrester, T., Baker-Whatton, M. C., McShea, W. J., Rota, C. T., Schuttler, S. G., Millspaugh, J. J., & Kays, R. (2018). Mammal communities are larger and more diverse in moderately developed areas. eLife, 7.


Copyright Parsons et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.



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