Behavioural responses of wildlife to urban environments Academic Article uri icon


  • Increased urbanization represents a formidable challenge for wildlife. Nevertheless, a few species appear to thrive in the evolutionarily novel environment created by cities, demonstrating the remarkable adaptability of some animals. We argue that individuals that can adjust their behaviours to the new selection pressures presented by cities should have greater success in urban habitats. Accordingly, urban wildlife often exhibit behaviours that differ from those of their rural counterparts, from changes to food and den preferences to adjustments in the structure of their signals. Research suggests that behavioural flexibility (or phenotypic plasticity) may be an important characteristic for succeeding in urban environments. Moreover, some individuals or species might possess behavioural traits (a particular temperament) that are inherently well suited to occupying urban habitats, such as a high level of disturbance tolerance. This suggests that members of species that are less 'plastic' or naturally timid in temperament are likely to be disadvantaged in high-disturbance environments and consequently may be precluded from colonizing cities and towns.

publication date

  • 2013