Effects of Human Activity on Wildlife Activity on an Urban Nature Preserve as Assessed Using Motion-Detection Cameras

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological and Environmental Sciences

Date of Award

Fall 2022


Urbanization increases fragmentation of nature recreational areas, yet cities can support a remarkable abundance and diversity of wildlife. This study provides data on spatiotemporal activity patterns of urban species relative to human activity by observing and monitoring wildlife activity at an urban wildlife sanctuary and educational facility, the Lewisville ISD Outdoor Learning Area, using trail cameras. I established five cameras along cross paths of human and animal trails. Human activity was classified on minimal, 5 or fewer people, and high, school groups greater over 60, and divided on time of the week, weekday, and weekends and on the time of the day, mornings (am) and afternoons (pm). I analyzed the data using Chi-squared Krustal-Wallis test. Sixteen species were detected using five cameras. For the seven most common species, about 80% of detections occurred when human activity was minimal. However, a few individuals of each of these species were active when human activity was high indicating that some individuals become habituated to humans. There was little evidence of a weekend effect on detection times and activity for most species. The exception was coyotes, which exhibited an increase in activity pm weekdays. The study period falls during the COVID- 19 pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions on human activity resulted in an increase in armadillo and cottontail detections, but lower numbers of coyotes, white-tailed deer, bobcats, raccoons, and skunks, as well as a temporal shift in mean activity for these latter species. This study will further our understanding of wildlife responses to anthropogenic disturbances and can be used to manage human activity to minimize human impacts on wildlife while maintaining recreational opportunities for people.


Jeffery Kopachena

Subject Categories

Biology | Environmental Sciences | Life Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics