For such an Urban environment, Chicago, Illinois serves as home to a variety of plant, insect, and animal species. Since my upbringing in the northern suburbs, I have noticed that Chicago has an extremely high population of squirrels, and birds. One reason for this are the forest preserves just West of downtown, but recent research has found that Chicagoans, and their homes, also play a major role in fostering bird populations.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago studied the number of bird species within Chicago neighborhoods, finding 36 different total species. Residents of these neighborhoods were surveyed to determine what kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plant matter were present in yards, as well as whether a dog or cat was allowed outside the home. In comparing their findings, the team found that trees and fruit yielding plants attracted the largest population of birds, and the presence of an animal had the opposite effect.
The research suggests that conservation efforts in the area would benefit from “thinking outside the park,” by encouraging residents to create an environment that birds can thrive in. Since urbanization has limited the amount of wildlife in city areas, making local neighborhoods more habitable by planting more fruitful plants and trees, or limiting predator presence could allow bird species to thrive. This allows bird populations to maintain more stability, and overall decrease human affect on the animal.
This is just one example of a way that we can manipulate our environment to mitigate our toll on nature. Just another bit of hope in the unfortunate scope of the anthropocene.