Season 30- Spring 2024 is here! Check out our Talk page to learn more and see this blog about how we are using these data!

Season 30- Spring 2024 is here! Check out our Talk page to learn more and see this blog about how we are using these data!

The Team

Chicago Wildlife Watch Team

Seth Magle

Seth first became interested in conservation and ecology as a college student while observing black-tailed prairie dogs living in sidewalk median strips near his home in Boulder, Colorado. Daily interactions with these fascinating animals made him wonder what allowed these small, seemingly helpless mammals to survive in such a highly urban habitat. Eventually, he completed an honors thesis on the behavior of this urban-adapted keystone species; he ultimately expanded on that research for both a master’s degree (from the University of Wisconsin) and a doctorate (from Colorado State University).

However, Seth’s interests go far beyond prairie dogs to encompass all wildlife species impacted by urbanization and human development. He has researched urban wildlife species for more than 20 years and published nearly 50 research articles. He is now the director of the Urban Wildlife Institute and the executive director of the Urban Wildlife Information Network, an alliance of urban wildlife researchers spanning 23 cities.

His vision is to help create a world where urban ecosystems represent an important component of the worldwide conservation of biodiversity.

Liza Lehrer

Liza’s interest in wildlife began as a kid while digging through her backyard and looking for bugs and worms to scare her sister. In college, she studied zoology, spent a semester abroad in Australia, and held internships working with wildlife rehabilitation and studying the behavior of captive Mexican wolves.

After earning her degree in zoology, Liza worked as a research intern at Lincoln Park Zoo and later as animal records keeper. It was her work at the zoo, and life in Chicago, that led to her fascination with urban wildlife and her return to graduate school to study how urbanization affects survival, movement, and behavior of an urban-adapter species: the woodchuck.

As assistant director of the Urban Wildlife Institute, Liza assists with strategic planning, coordinates partnerships, oversees wildlife management for the zoo’s Nature Boardwalk, and collaborates with the Learning department. She manages and collects data for several of the institute’s field research projects, including the Biodiversity Monitoring and Bat Monitoring projects, and is the Chicago lead for the Urban Wildlife Information Network.

Liza’s research interests include landscape, behavioral, and acoustical ecology; managing human-wildlife conflict; and the design of wildlife-friendly cities. She is endlessly fascinated by the resiliency and behavioral flexibility of animals, especially those that live in cities.

Mason Fidino

Mason’s research is in biodiversity informatics. He integrates large and complex data sources, develops novel quantitative techniques, and uses high-performance computing to determine how biodiversity responds to environmental change across multiple spatiotemporal scales. Mason is especially interested in understanding ecological principles in urban environments and, through their research, looks for ways to leverage the vast data sources that exist in cities to answer pressing ecological issues. In addition to their own research, Mason provides statistical support to fellow researchers at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Conservation & Science department and serves as the analytics advisor for the Urban Wildlife Information Network—the world’s first multi-city biodiversity-monitoring network designed to systematically connect ecological findings across cities.

Kimberly Rivera

Originally from the suburbs of New York City, Kimberly has been lucky to call many places her home. Since graduating from the University of Delaware with a degree in Environmental Science, she has worked on a variety of conservation and research-based projects. From the deserts of the Mojave, boreal forests of Minnesota, rainforests of Madagascar, to streets of Chicago, she enjoys studying and conserving all the amazing ecosystems that exist on our planet.

Kimberly completed her MSc at the University of Rhode Island conducting research in the Biological and Environmental Sciences program. She worked in the Applied Quantitative Ecology Lab under Dr. Brian Gerber alongside international partners such as the Mad Dog Initiative and the Urban Wildlife Institute. Her research was focused on understanding the impacts of human disturbance on fosa in Madagascar and coyotes in Chicago, USA. She also investigated people’s values of and interaction with coyotes in Rhode Island through online surveys and quantitative analyses.

More generally, Kimberly is interested in supporting biodiversity across all habitats, especially as that pertains to understanding and mitigating human-wildlife interactions and supporting sensitive/endangered species. She plans to continue studying and supporting these systems through research and outreach in Chicago and beyond!

The Organizations

Urban Wildlife Institute

Our team are ecologists at the Urban Wildlife Institute (UWI), hosted by the Lincoln Park Zoo. Utilizing Lincoln Park Zoo’s diverse scientific specialties, UWI studies the interaction between urban development and the natural ecosystem to monitor biodiversity, disease transmission, and develop community partnerships. Landscape ecology, population biology, epidemiology, endocrinology, veterinary medicine and other core disciplines contribute to an increased understanding of ecosystem health in an urban setting. The Urban Wildlife Institute aims to use Chicago as a model for other urban areas struggling to coexist or manage wildlife relocation, rehabilitation, disease and human-wildlife interactions.

One issue receiving special emphasis is the transmission of disease from animals to humans—another byproduct of urban sprawl. By studying how people and animals interact in an urban setting, the Urban Wildlife Institute can help scientists to better understand—and curb—zoonotic disease threats such as West Nile virus, rabies and avian influenza.

Supported by a $1.5 million grant from the Davee Foundation, the Urban Wildlife Institute is forming partnerships with local nature and conservation organizations and conducting pilot studies into ecosystem health and human-wildlife interaction. By developing standards for managing urban wildlife issues, the institute is creating a conflict-management model that can be followed worldwide.

Urban Wildlife Information Network

Every city is home to wildlife, which means we have vast opportunities to create prosperous habitats for animals while reducing conflict between wildlife and people. However, to understand broader patterns of urban wildlife, we need data from all around the world. The Urban Wildlife Information Network (UWIN) is a partnership of researchers who share wildlife monitoring protocols first created at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute to understand the ecology and behavior of urban species. By comparing data throughout the network, we can understand differences in animal behavior across regions and find patterns that remain consistent around the globe. UWIN works to provide city planners, wildlife managers, and researchers with the tools needed to make cities part of the solution to the biodiversity crisis.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is a world of wildlife in the shadow of skyscrapers. Located within a verdant park just minutes north of Chicago, the zoo has been a natural, free oasis for generations of animal lovers, who visit the zoo to hear a lion’s roar echo off nearby apartment buildings, see gorillas climb trees as the Willis Tower looms in the distance or forget where they are as they immerse themselves in tropical rainforests, dry-thorn forests or spacious savannas.

Lincoln Park Zoo is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience in the heart of Chicago and by advancing the highest quality of animal care, education, science and conservation.