3/12/13 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s Environmental Lecture Series continues its series on “The Ecology of Urban Living” with a March 21 lecture by Dr. Stanley Gehrt, associate professor of environmental and natural resources at The Ohio State University.
This lecture, which is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall of the Schar College of Education, is titled "Ghost Dogs: Urban Ecology of Coyotes." This lecture is free and open to the public.
Gehrt is the principle investigator of a project monitoring coyotes in Chicago for the past 12 years. Gehrt and his colleagues have marked nearly 700 coyotes in a population of, according to Gehrt, at least 2,000. This is the largest urban study of its kind. The project’s general purpose is a better understanding of how coyotes are succeeding in such an urban landscape. They also hope to learn what this success story means for people, pets and other wildlife.
Initially, scientists were somewhat skeptical that Chicago would provide a good territory for coyotes. “Nine million people live in the greater Chicago area,” says Gehrt. “We didn’t think very many coyotes could thrive in such a highly urbanized area.”
Coyotes have proven to be very adaptable animals and are thriving in many cities across the U.S. Instead of finding a few, isolated packs around Chicago, Gehrt and his fellow researchers have found the coyotes just about everywhere.
“In most cases people are totally oblivious to it,” explains Gehrt. “There will be coyotes hiding in bushes or in the parks or something, and people will be walking by with their dog and they’ll have no idea there’s a coyote there.”
Although the coyote is common throughout the U.S., many aspects of the coyote remain mysterious and poorly understood. Dr. Gehrt will present results of the research and along the way address myths and truths about this amazing carnivore, and what it means when they move into the city. Things to be discussed will include their movements, social behavior, survival and food habits, and what are the benefits and costs for other wildlife and people.
Gehrt is an internationally recognized coyote expert. He is also involved in research projects studying the urban ecology of domestic free-ranging cats, raccoons, and white-tailed deer. The coyote research has drawn a lot of media attention and his work has been featured in newspapers, radio and on television programs on The History Channel and on public television.
Gehrt, a native of Chanute, Kansas, graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Bethany College and then earned a Master’s of Science in Biology in 1988 from Emporia State. He completed his Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri in 1994.
This is the fourth and final talk in this year's Environmental Lecture Series on the general topic of "The Ecology of Urban Living." Eighty percent of the U.S. population and more than 50 percent of the world’s population now live in urban areas. Previous speakers have addressed the impacts of urban environments on water resources, the prospects of urban farming, and urban-planning opportunities in currently "thinning" cities such as Cleveland and Detroit.
Current support for the lecture series is provided by a grant from the Lubrizol Foundation and additional support from Ashland University, and an archive of recent lectures and further information is available at www.ashland.edu/departments/environmental-science/lecture-series.
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###