Study shows ‘luxury effect’ strongest in St. Louis for biodiversity


ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Researchers studied how wildlife occupies and uses urban environments from July 2016 to January 2020. Among 20 cities they found that St. Louis showed the strongest connection between mammal biodiversity and income.

Biodiversity decreases in the urban core of most cities. But, wealthy neighborhoods may provide a “luxury effect” to produce favorable environments.

This idea had been explored for some birds but the new study compares multiple cities and environments for medium to large-sized animals.

Researchers set up trail cameras in 20 cities across the United States to watch for mammals ranging in size from a squirrel to a moose. The most common animal they spotted was a raccoon with more than 20,000 instances. Porcupines were spotted only 29 times, making them the least common sighting.

The data did not show that mammals can’t live in urban environments. It just showed that species like raccoons and grey squirrels are more likely to thrive in cities than deer.

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