Urbanization, the conversion of natural landscapes into densely human populated areas of residential, commercial, and industrial use, changes the composition and function of ecosystems. In Lancaster County our landscape is a patch work of agricultural, developed, and forest lands. Remnant forest patches take on even greater importance to remaining wildlife as reserves. My students and I at Franklin & Marshall College, in collaboration with the Lancaster Conservancy have been studying how forest animals use Conservancy preserves for the last six years. I will report interesting patterns of forest use by both common species, such as red fox and deer, but also by less common and more forest-dependent species, such as gray fox and wild turkey. Increasingly, studying the ecology of wildlife also requires studying the ecology of people! Visitation to preserves is not evenly distributed, as some areas, such as Tucquan Glen, Kelly's Run, and Welsh Mountain receive heavy use. The talk will discuss patterns of recreation use and how human visitation affects the distribution and timing of forest use by animals. Lastly, a consideration of the broader landscape ecology of the County will be discussed.
Dan Ardia is a Professor of Biology at Franklin & Marshall College. His primary research interest is understanding how organisms interact with their environment in response to rapid environmental change. Much of his research focuses on the physiology and behavior of birds across the world, including in Africa, South America and Alaska. But, understanding 'home' is equally important, so recently, he started the 'Lancaster Wildlife Project' to better integrate his local research projects, including forest mammals, urban bats, and the broader urban and social ecology of the City of Lancaster. Ardia is currently the President of the Association of Field Ornithologists, and he sits on the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania Master Naturalist; North Museum of Science and Nature; and Millport Conservancy.