Seminar: Dr. Christopher Schell

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Dr. Christopher Schell, University of California, Berkeley
Time of Event: 
Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 13:00

This is a virtual seminar. 

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Coyotes, Conflict, and Cities: Exploring the Role of Social Heterogeneity in Shaping Coyote Behavior

Virtual seminar presented by Dr. Christoper Schell, University of California, Berkeley

Abstract: Despite recent groundbreaking discoveries and innovation in the fields of urban ecology, evolution, and behavior, work investigating how variance in human social systems induces behavioral change is relatively nascent. Within-city variation in how humans perceive and interact with wildlife likely predicts the strategies that urban organisms may use to navigate the city. Hence, variation across multiple axes (e.g., cultural, political, demographic) may explain variance in observed behavioral shifts of wildlife. In this talk, I will discuss how social heterogeneity in the built environment contributes to human-carnivore conflict using lessons from the coyote (Canis latrans). Repeated evidence using mixed methods suggests that both human footprint (e.g., building densities) and human presence (e.g., visitation) have substantial influence on how coyotes navigate urban environments. The distribution of food subsidies, domestic pets, and refuse, also contribute to heightened tolerance of humans, which set the stage for conflict. In sum, behavior can be used as a fundamental trait to understand how society shapes the ecology of cities.

A headshot of Dr. Christopher Schell

Bio: Dr. Chris Schell is an urban ecologist interested in socio-eco-evo dynamics and how they contribute to patterns of human-carnivore conflict in urban environments. Chris’ research focuses on how urban carnivore behavior, physiology, and genomics are shaped by living in cities. In addition, his work integrates principles from the natural sciences with urban studies, environmental justice, and climate change to address how racial and economic oppression affect urban ecosystems. Chris received his B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University (2009) and his master's and PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago (2015). From 2018–2021, he served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma, and he recently joined the faculty in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM) at the University of California, Berkeley, continuing his work toward investigating how wildlife adapt to cities. 


Event type: 
Event Attendance: 
Open to the Public
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