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The Urban Habitat

Activity Description

Habitat is a crucial concept in wildlife ecology and management, since most of our questions involve figuring out the conditions that species or communities need to thrive.  Urban wildlife species typically have a few habitat and behavioral similarities, and it is often the wildlife ecologist’s job in these areas to facilitate the survival of a few valued wildlife species.  An understanding of habitat and species-specific habitat requirements is therefore necessary.

This lesson is a description of the concept of habitat and then a lecture/discussion on how a species’ life history can be used to figure out its likely habitat.  We then look at the general characteristics of the urban habitat and how this may be favorable or unfavorable to different species.

Estimated Time of Activity 1.5 hours

Activity Objectives

Students will be able do the following as a result of the activity:

  1. Understand what habitat is and the factors that affect a species’ habitat
  2. Learn what about the urban habitat makes it good for some species and bad for others

Activity Prerequisites

Diversity, population bio and community ecology lessons

Activity Instructions

  1. This lesson is mainly a lecture, but includes many pictures and opportunities to discuss the subject matter.  I find that students have many questions about this subject, and some questions that may start a discussion are included in the powerpoint.
  2. There are also 2 movies (urban gulls and crows) that can be shown when discussing food sources in the urban environment



  • Students should write a 1-2 page essay on: “Are places that are heavily modified by humans (eg, cities, towns, farms, golf courses) good habitat?”  This question is intentionally vague, as good or bad habitat depends on the species in question.  The goal is to have students understand this idea and be able to talk about habitat in terms of the needs of different species.  This essay is due in two classes (so after the next lesson). 


Assessment: Essays will be collected and graded.  It would also be a good idea to fit in time to edit and return the essays and have students rewrite them


  • Powerpoint (link coming soon)
  • Movie files of gull and crows (available on dropbox)

Instructor’s Notes