Urban wildlife in times of COVID-19: What can we infer from novel carnivore records in urban areas?
Silva-Rodríguez, Eduardo A.
Swan, George J.F.
Cusack, Jeremy J. [Univ Mayor, Ctr Modelac & Monitoreo Ecosistemas CEM]
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought an unusual decrease in human activity associated with partial and total lockdowns. Simultaneously, a series of wildlife sightings—mainly in urban areas—have been brought to public attention and often attributed to lockdown measures. Here we report on a series of wild carnivore records, including threatened species, obtained through camera traps set in urban forests, campuses, suburbs, and peri-urban areas of two cities in Chile, during partial lockdown measures. Our records are novel for Chile, a country where urban carnivore ecology is mostly unknown, and include the detection of four native carnivores, including the vulnerable güiña (Leopardus guigna) and the endangered southern river otter (Lontra provocax). These records also constitute a valuable baseline collected during partial lockdown measures in two cities of the Global South. We emphasize, however, that these findings cannot be used to argue for or against an effect of lockdown measures on wildlife. More generally, we call for caution in the interpretation of seemingly novel carnivore records during periods of lockdown and stress the value of international collaboration in evaluating the effects of the Anthropause on wildlife.
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