What can we learn from wildlife sightings during the COVID-19 global shutdown?

Amanda J. Zellmer, Eric M. Wood, Thilina Surasinghe, Breanna J. Putman, Gregory B. Pauly, Seth B. Magle, Jesse S. Lewis, Cria A.M. Kay, Mason Fidino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


During the worldwide shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many reports emerged of urban wildlife sightings. While these images garnered public interest and declarations of wildlife reclaiming cities, it is unclear whether wildlife truly reoccupied urban areas or whether there were simply increased detections of urban wildlife during this time. Here, we detail key questions and needs for monitoring wildlife during the COVID-19 shutdown and then link these with future needs and actions with the intent of improving conservation within urban ecosystems. We discuss the tools ecologists and conservation scientists can use to safely and effectively study urban wildlife during the shutdown. With a coordinated, multicity effort, researchers and community scientists can rigorously investigate the responses of wildlife to changes in human activities, which can help us address long-standing questions in urban ecology, inspire conservation of wildlife, and inform the design of sustainable cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere03215
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • SARS-CoV-2
  • automated detection
  • backyard studies
  • citizen science
  • community science
  • coronavirus
  • long-term ecological/ecosystem research network
  • multicity collaboration
  • urban ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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