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Challenges of Urbanization

Most species do not tolerate urbanization, yet a few persist and even thrive in cities. How do these species differ? In collaboration with Paul Martin, we are striving to answer this question and to better understand how birds cope with urban challenges. In future work, we're also interested in incorporating burying beetle responses to urban challenges into this research!


You can learn about recent findings from our global, citizen science study on urban birds here and here.

We've also tapped into publicly available datasets to generate a novel, quantitative measure of urban tolerance in North American birds. This project was Rachel Fanelli's MSc thesis, which she published in the journal Ecology in 2022.

Emma Sinclair's MSc project investigated links between hormone concentrations and urban tolerance in birds. You can find her study, published in Proceedings B in 2022, here.

We are analyzing results from the Urban Birds of Ontario project – a citizen science effort to document all the bird species that do and do not breed in Ontario’s 15 metro areas.

If you’re an avid birder or naturalist, please consider contributing data to this study!

We have also recently launched a global project aimed at better understanding urban biodiversity, including in cities in economically disadvantaged regions. We've completed acoustic surveys in Dakar, Senegal with our collaborators there, and are launching surveys in Nairobi, Kenya; Paris, France; and Toronto this spring!


Current lab members on this project:

Julianna Petrenko (Msc), Allen Chochinov (PhD),

Paul Preston (PhD), Abi Raji (postdoc)



Dr. Fran Bonier, Associate Professor

Queen's University Biology Department

Kingston, ON K7L 3N6 Canada

phone: +01.613.533.6000 x 77024


photo credits

Derek Zaraza: Urban peregrine

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