Degree Granting Department
Robert Brinkmann, Ph.D.
Graham A. Tobin, Ph.D.
Janice Chism, Ph.D.
Jianguo Ma, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Strom, Ph.D.
Urban Wildlife, Fragmentation, Landscape, Ecology, Land Use
As suburban and exurban residential developments continue to multiply in urban areas, they encroach on wildlife habitats leading to increased human-wildlife interactions. The animals involved in direct conflict with homeowners are often relocated or exterminated by the homeowners. Often the homeowners contact state licensed wildlife trappers to eliminate the problem animal. In this study I examined how landscape, ecological, and social factors influence the incidence of human-wildlife conflict of thirty two residential areas in the Tampa, Florida metropolitan area. These residential areas, totaling over 300 km2, are part of the urban development gradient representing a range of urban land use from the urban core to exurban residential areas. This study consisted of four phases. In the first three phases, I investigated which landscape, ecological, and social factors contribute to homeowner conflict with wild animals on their property. In the last phase, I combine the significant factors contributing to human-wildlife conflict from the first three phases to build a more complete model.
A spatial analysis of the locations of human-wildlife conflict events recorded by licensed wildlife trappers showed the most significant development and landscape factors affecting human-wildlife conflict reporting in a residential area were human population density and total area of natural habitat immediately adjacent to the residential area. A survey of the relative abundance of conflict prone animals living near and in remnant patches of habitat in suburban residential areas revealed that greater abundance was not correlated with the reported conflict of that species within that residential area. Species that were social, omnivorous, and had some flexibility in home range size were involved most often in conflict in highly urbanized environments. Species that were less social, and were not omnivorous, were not significantly involved in human-wildlife conflict in highly urbanized residential areas. These species tended to be restricted to intermediately urbanized areas like suburban and exurban residential areas.
Several social factors were also significant contributors to human-wildlife conflict as revealed through personal interviews with suburban homeowners in Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Interviews confirmed that most people have positive attitudes toward wildlife, but some form of conflict was reported by thirty four percent of suburban residents, although only seventeen percent of those perceived it as a problem worth spending money to solve. Analysis of the attitudes of residents who reported having experienced problems associated with wildlife on their property, revealed significant negative correlations with statements of environmental concern and concern for the treatment of animals.
Using all the significant variables from the physical landscape, ecological evaluation, and the human attitude study in the suburbs, I developed a statistical model of human-wildlife conflict across the urbanization gradient. While the model has marginal success in terms of practical application for prediction, it is quite valuable for defining the importance of these variables in relation to conflict with certain types of species across the gradient. This set of papers collectively defines relationships between variables existing in urban, suburban, and exurban residential areas and human-wildlife conflict. These factors should be considered when planning new residential areas to minimize human-wildlife conflict while maximizing the residents’ enjoyment of natural areas and species within the residential area.
Scholar Commons Citation
Gilleland, Amanda H., "Human-Wildlife Conflict Across Urbanization Gradients: Spatial, Social, and Ecological Factors" (2010). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.