How does human activity affect wild animals? In 2020, a major tragedy created an opportunity to find out. As countries went into lockdown, to curb the spread of COVID-19, city centres became deserted, nature reserves closed their gates, and highways and shipping corridors fell silent. Anecdotal reports at the time suggested that wildlife responded to this ‘anthropause’ by exploring new haunts. In this talk, Christian will explain how he helped launch a global research consortium to investigate changes in animal movement patterns during lockdowns — using data collected by tiny wildlife wearables (‘bio-loggers’). The COVID-19 Bio-Logging Initiative is the largest animal-tracking study ever conducted, with a database of over 1 billion satellite fixes for ~13,000 tagged animals across ~200 species. Christian will conclude by outlining his vision for the Urban Exploration Project, which will coordinate the tracking of animals across gradients of urbanization and human disturbance around the globe, to inform efforts to build a future where humans and wildlife can coexist.
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