• The effects of a zoo environment on free-living, native small mammal species

      Elwell, Emily; Leeson, Christopher; Vaglio, Stefano (Wiley, 2021-03-25)
      One of the main threats to native species conservation is urbanization. It is causing changes to natural habitats and species composition. Urban green spaces have shown to have conservation value for native species by providing safe spaces in urban areas. They typically contain a variety of habitats and plant species which is correlated with greater abundance and diversity of small mammal species. Zoos are a vital resource for animal conservation and, in some instances, could be considered as an urban green space for native species conservation. Their unique environment provides free-living, native species an abundance of resources including food and shelter. This project involved the live trapping of free-living small mammal species (<40 g) between enclosures in Dudley Zoological Gardens to study the effects of the zoo environment. There were no significant differences found between total number of captures and trap proximity to enclosures. There was a significant difference in total captures found between different enclosure trapping areas. Generalized linear mixed models were fitted to the data and there were significant relationships between abundance and both habitat type and enclosure species. Habitats associated with semi-natural woodland had the greatest diversity and total captures of small mammals. Total captures was lower in trapping areas that were associated with predatory species. Similar to research on green spaces, habitat was an important factor determining abundance, but predator enclosures were a factor unique to zoos. This study illustrates the potential of zoos as an urban green space and for the study of small mammals.