Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Michigan
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Johansson, E.P., and B.A. DeGregorio. 2023. The Effects of Landscape and Yard Features on Mammal Diversity in Residential Yards. Urban Ecosystems.


The human footprint is rapidly expanding, and wildlife habitat is continuously being converted to human residential properties. Most wildlife residing in developing areas are displaced to nearby undeveloped areas. However, some animals can co-exist with humans and acquire the necessary resources (food, water, shelter) within the human environment. This may be particularly true when development is low intensity, as in residential suburban yards. Yards are individually managed “greenspaces” that can provide a range of food (e.g., bird feeders, compost, gardens), water (bird baths and garden ponds), and shelter (e.g., brush-piles, outbuildings) resources and are surrounded by varying landscape cover. To evaluate which landscape and yard features influence the richness and diversity of the herbivores and mesopredators within residential yards in a rapidly developing region; we deployed wildlife game cameras in 46 residential yards in summer 2021 and 96 yards in summer 2022. We found that mesopredator diversity was negatively impacted by fences and positively influenced by the number of bird feeders present in a yard. Mesopredator richness increased with the amount of forest within 400m of the camera. Herbivore diversity and richness were positively influenced by the area of forest within 400m of the yard and by the area of garden space within the yard, respectively. Our results suggest that while landscape does play a role in the presence of wildlife in a residential area, homeowners also have agency over the richness and diversity of mammals using their yards based on the features they create or maintain on their properties.