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Building the Civilized Wild

Building the Civilized Wild

(p.156) 16 Building the Civilized Wild
Seth Magle
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes a day in the life of two urban biologists as they collect wildlife data around the city of Chicago, Illinois. The chapter also describes the formation of the young discipline of urban wildlife biology, and the reasons the greater scientific community has been slow to engage with city landscapes. Urban areas have long been viewed as anathema to conservation efforts and cast as the villain in our narrative of wildness versus progress. However, this depiction both oversimplifies the issue and ignores the many species that make cities their homes. An increased ecological focus on human-modified landscapes is thus critically needed. The challenges of working in urban landscapes are explored. Numerous iconic urban species, including coyotes, raccoons, and black-crowned night herons, are specifically discussed. A new paradigm for urban wildlife study is proposed, one that examines interactions between species and takes an integrated approach to understanding biodiversity in cities. Urban areas represent the fastest growing ecosystems on the planet, and if we are to conserve wildlife on an urbanizing planet, it will be crucial to design cities that allow humans and other animals to coexist.

Keywords:   urban wildlife, reconciliation ecology, urban biodiversity, coyotes, raccoons, Chicago, green cities, Urban Wildlife Institute

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