Date of Completion

Summer 8-31-2022

Thesis Advisor(s)

Miranda Davis ; Robert Bagchi

Honors Major

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Lockdowns and restrictions associated with the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic altered human activity, with potential impacts on wildlife. In particular, the activity of reclusive mammalian carnivores, which often avoid humans, may have been affected with ramifications for population connectivity and viability. Here, I evaluate changes in the capture rates of humans and mammalian carnivores between 2019 and 2020 across 31 sites in the Eastern United States. Site-specific capture records were obtained from the Snapshot USA camera trapping survey. Differences in carnivore activity were modelled as a response to human activity changes and the development level of the site (urban, suburban, rural or wild) using generalized linear models. Results indicated that, when compared with 2019, there was an overall decrease in human activity at camera sites in 2020, but human activity at urban and wild sites increased slightly. The mean capture rates of all carnivores examined did not change significantly between 2019 and 2020. Capture rates of all individually examined carnivore species varied significantly among development types, with most showing the lowest activity in urban areas. Of seven species modelled individually, only fisher (Martes pennanti) activity responded positively to decreases in human activity between years. Overall, with limited exceptions, changes in human activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may not have impacted mammalian carnivore activity as much as expected. This lack of a relationship with human activity could imply that some reclusive carnivore species make more use of human-occupied landscapes than was previously thought, but simply go undetected.