Sublethal consequences of urban life for wild vertebrates

Kim Birnie-Gauvin, Kathryn S. Peiman, Austin J. Gallagher, Robert De Bruijn, Steven J. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Urbanization is modifying previously pristine natural habitats and creating "new" ecosystems for wildlife. As a result, some animals now use habitat fragments or have colonized urban areas. Such animals are exposed to novel stimuli that they have not been exposed to in their evolutionary history. Some species have adapted to the challenges they face- A phenomenon known as synurbanization-while others have not. Here we present a review of the sublethal consequences of life in the city for wild vertebrates, and demonstrate that urban animals face an almost completely different set of physiological and behavioural challenges compared to their rural counterparts. We focus on the negative fitness-related impacts of urbanization, but also identify instances where there are benefits to wildlife. The effects of urbanization appear to be both species-and context-dependent, suggesting that although the field of urban ecology is far from nascent, we are still just beginning to understand how the intricacies of biodiversity on our planet are affected by our presence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Reviews
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)416-425
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecology: environmental biology - General and methods
  • behavioral challenge
  • sublethal consequence
  • habitat fragments
  • rural counterparts
  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Sublethal consequences
  • Synurbanization
  • Urban ecology
  • Urbanization
  • Vertebrates
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystems
  • Animals
  • urban ecology
  • urbanization
  • vertebrates
  • sublethal consequences
  • synurbanization
  • écologie urbaine
  • urbanisation
  • vertébrés
  • conséquences sublétales
  • synurbanisation


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