using citizen science to assess urban carnivore communities in los angeles

Research Project | 2016

Using Citizen Science to Assess Urban Carnivore Communities in Los Angeles

Awardee: Tiffany Armenta

Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Funding Source: La Kretz Center Graduate Grant / Stunt Ranch Reserve


Anthropogenic development puts some populations at risk, but other species benefit by adapting to and colonizing these novel habitats. Anecdotal evidence suggests that mesocarnivores like coyotes and raccoons are moving further into cities, but there are few comparative data available to evaluate population densities or species-specific activity patterns in urban areas. This project will employ citizen scientists of all ages to help collect these data. Using support from the La Kretz Center, I will purchase remotely triggered cameras and lend them to citizen scientists. Volunteers will place cameras in a stratified random design across LA’s urban-wildland gradient, providing spatial and temporal information of all local carnivore species. I will then incorporate environmental data such as habitat type, human population density, and road density to identify the specific environmental variables that promote or restrict species distributions in the area. In addition to acquiring valuable scientific data, this project will facilitate public interest in the science of urban ecology by providing the opportunity for amateur naturalists to ask and answer questions about local wildlife.