WILDLIFE

Climate change impacting urban animals, expert says

Sep 6, 2023, 9:00 AM

A squirrel in the city...

A city squirrel. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new study using camera traps in Utah’s recreational areas has given researchers a better idea of the impact climate change is having on animals that live in cities.

Warming temperatures are rapidly altering how cities function. Humans aren’t the only ones feeling the hotter temperatures. The study suggested that animals living in urban environments have a harder time adapting. 

Urban areas that are less lush and see drier conditions tend to be harsher for animals, according to Austin Green, a biologist at the University of Utah. 

Green used camera traps across 55 sites to gather the data. His data was used by a larger, 20-city study that monitored over 1,500 camera traps. 

“As [temperatures continue] to get worse animals are going to have a harder time adapting to city life because they try to use that nighttime period to get away from the heat,” said Green.

Mitigating climate change 

Green explained how developers and urban planners can incorporate nature into their designs.

The incorporation of crawling gardens up walls can provide refuge from the heat. 

“Green vegetation helps dissipate a lot of heat… that can really help animals [in] these types of environments,” said Green. 

According to Green, reflective surfaces on buildings are also helpful in creating animal-friendly cities. 

Green hopes this study will help urban planners better understand the importance of building nature back into our cities. It is the key to helping animals survive rising temperatures. 

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Climate change impacting urban animals, expert says