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BMC Ecol. 2018 Nov 29;18(1):50. doi: 10.1186/s12898-018-0207-7.

Fox sightings in a city are related to certain land use classes and sociodemographics: results from a citizen science project.

Author information

1
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Savoyenstrasse 1, 1160, Vienna, Austria.
2
Institute of Zoology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Gregor Mendel Strasse 33, 1180, Vienna, Austria.
3
Austrian Ornithological Centre, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Savoyenstrasse 1a, 1160, Vienna, Austria.
4
Institute for Applied Statistics and Computing, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Peter Jordan-Strasse 82, 1190, Vienna, Austria.
5
Institute of Zoology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Gregor Mendel Strasse 33, 1180, Vienna, Austria. florian.heigl@boku.ac.at.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes L.) have become successful inhabitants of urban areas in recent years. However, our knowledge about the occurrence, distribution and association with land uses of these urban foxes is poor, partly because many favoured habitats are on private properties and therefore hardly accessible to scientists. We assumed that citizen science, i.e. the involvement of the public, could enable researchers to bridge this information gap. We analysed 1179 fox sightings in the city of Vienna, Austria reported via citizen science projects to examine relationships between foxes and the surrounding land use classes as well as sociodemographic parameters.

RESULTS:

Conditional probabilities of encountering foxes were substantially higher in gardens, areas with a low building density, parks or squares as compared to agricultural areas, industrial areas or forests. Generalized linear model analyses showed that sociodemographic parameters such as education levels, district area, population density and average household income additionally improved the predictability of fox sightings.

CONCLUSIONS:

Reports of fox sightings by citizen scientists might help to support the establishment of wildlife management in cities. Additionally, these data could be used to address public health issues in relation with red foxes as they can carry zoonoses that are also dangerous to humans.

KEYWORDS:

Carnivores; Human–wildlife interaction; Public participation; Remote sensing; Urban ecosystems; Vulpes vulpes

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