Synurbization

Ducks on a flotation cushion in the Chicago River

Ducks on a flotation cushion in the Chicago River

The definition of Synurbization is basically the adjustment of wildlife within the urban area. The expansion of urban development has resulted in the colonization of species within the confines of cities. Synurbic populations have significant behavioral differences to those in the “wild”. Typical features of Synanthropes include dense populations, reduced migratory behavior, prolonged breeding seasons, increased longevity (winter broods) changes in dietary habits and adaptation to human behaviors. North American Synanthropes include coyote, rabbit, deer, raccoons, squirrels, red fox opossums and mallards. These animals have a higher survival rate than those in rural habitats due to the abundance of anthropogenic food and water and lack of predators.

We are well aware that generations of Mallard ducks and Canada geese have been reared in cities and the results of this condition include a myriad of problems; geese destroy landscaped areas by overgrazing plantings and turf; water quality issues abate in areas inhabited by large populations; ducks can become nutrient deficient as they limit foraging in favor of the human handouts.

Compared to other wildlife, we have very little understanding of how coyotes succeed in the urban landscape. Time will tell.

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