Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
REVIEW

Human–wildlife interactions in urban areas: a review of conflicts, benefits and opportunities

Carl D. Soulsbury A C and Piran C. L. White B

A School of Life Sciences, Joseph Banks Laboratories, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, LN2 2LG, UK.

B Environment Department, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK.

C Corresponding author. Email: csoulsbury@lincoln.ac.uk

Wildlife Research 42(7) 541-553 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR14229
Submitted: 11 November 2014  Accepted: 18 May 2015   Published: 1 July 2015

Abstract

Wildlife has existed in urban areas since records began. However, the discipline of urban ecology is relatively new and one that is undergoing rapid growth. All wildlife in urban areas will interact with humans to some degree. With rates of urbanisation increasing globally, there is a pressing need to understand the type and nature of human–wildlife interactions within urban environments, to help manage, mitigate or even promote these interactions. Much research attention has focussed on the core topic of human–wildlife conflict. This inherent bias in the literature is probably driven by the ease with which it can be quantified and assessed. Human–wildlife conflicts in terms of disease transmission, physical attack and property damage are important topics to understand. Equally, the benefits of human–wildlife interactions are becoming increasingly recognised, despite being harder to quantify and generalise. Wildlife may contribute to the provision of ecosystem services in urban areas, and some recent work has shown how interactions with wildlife can provide a range of benefits to health and wellbeing. More research is needed to improve understanding in this area, requiring wildlife biologists to work with other disciplines including economics, public health, sociology, ethics, psychology and planning. There will always be a need to control wildlife populations in certain urban situations to reduce human–wildlife conflict. However, in an increasingly urbanised and resource-constrained world, we need to learn how to manage the risks from wildlife in new ways, and to understand how to maximise the diverse benefits that living with wildlife can bring.

Additional keywords: biodiversity, health and wellbeing, human–wildlife conflict, human–wildlife benefit, infectious disease, interdisciplinary, urbanisation, wildlife–vehicle collisions.


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