Anthonysamy Research Featured in Global Change Biology

Published on 25 September 2021

The mammal-related research work of Whitney Anthonysamy, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, and her colleagues with Tyson Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis, was recently featured in the scientific journal Global Change Biology.

Over the past three years, Anthonysamy has been engaged in the St. Louis Wildlife Project, a partnership between Tyson Research Center and UHSP, which has united the institutions in research efforts designed to identify how species diversity and habitats change across various landscapes in the region.

Since fall 2018, Anthonysamy, along with Solny Adalsteinsson and Elizabeth Biro of the Tyson Research Center, have been using cameras along a 40-kilometer east-west transect from St. Louis to Eureka, Missouri, to monitor and detect wildlife species in urban, suburban and rural areas. Their efforts have been part of a larger initiative, based at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, known as the Urban Wildlife Information Network.

“St. Louis is one of 35 cities worldwide that is currently part of the Urban Wildlife Information Network,” explained Anthonysamy. “Researchers within cities in the network are collecting camera trapping data related to species diversity and factors that affect the distribution of species. This work has been really impactful because it has allowed members of the network to share their local data in order to help make multi-city comparisons, as well as comparisons to a broader ecological network.”

The research data collected in St. Louis and 19 other cities in the Urban Wildlife Information Network was highlighted in a recent paper led by researchers at Lincoln Park Zoo and published in Global Change Biology, which examined how wealth and urbanization shape medium and large terrestrial mammal communities. In the study, researchers looked at how median income and urban intensity correlated to wildlife diversity.

“The study showed a correlation between income and biodiversity in some areas, but the significant finding in this paper was the negative correlation between urban intensity and species richness,” noted Anthonysamy. “The urban intensity variable represented a combination of variables including vegetation structure, impervious surfaces and population density. This urban intensity variable represented the strongest and most consistent correlation between urbanization and species richness.”

Anthonysamy notes these findings are significant because so many cities are represented in the study and utilize the same methodology.

“The work done in St. Louis represents the first urban ecology mammal study between UHSP and Washington University,” said Anthonysamy. “But the study as a whole is also unique because it offers opportunities for us to better understand how wildlife utilize their habitats in various areas in the U.S. and beyond so that we can broaden our understanding of urban ecology and how to best conserve biodiversity through data-driven urban planning and development worldwide.”

Anthonysamy and her collaborators from the Tyson Research Center are continuing to expand on their mammal research efforts with work currently underway to establish a north-south transect starting at the St. Louis Arch and heading northwest.

“With the establishment of the north-south transect, we will have two transects in the St. Louis area where we can further our work to document and study urban wildlife,” explained Anthonysamy. “I’m so proud of what our team has accomplished thus far on this project, and I’m looking forward to what’s to come. We’ve worked very hard on this initiative, and it was great to see our work published, and to gain recognition for doing work that we feel is so important.”

Read the full text of the Global Change Biology paper.

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