The Urban Wildlands Group

The Urban Wildlands Group is dedicated to the protection of species, habitats, and ecological processes in urban and urbanizing areas.

Latest News

September 20, 2013 -- Mt. Charleston blue butterfly, which UWG petitioned to list as endangered in 2005, has finally been listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, thanks to the legal action of the Center for Biological Diversity. Here is our original petition to list.

July 5, 2013 -- Paul Bogard's new book The End of Night: Searching for Darkness in the Age of Artificial Light is a sprawling travelogue/exploration of night, lighting, and its effects onCover of The End of Night by Bogard nature and society. The work of The Urban Wildlands Group features prominently in the chapter on ecology, including both the book Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting and research on towerkill of birds.

July 4, 2013 - Science Director Travis Longcore was quoted by the LA Weekly in two pieces reporting on a controversial proposal to place a combination visitor center/animal adoption center in Area C of the the state-owned Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. The articles are "Annenberg Foundation Can't Grasp Disgust Over Its Wetlands 'Interpretive Center' and Dog Pound" and "Wallis Annenberg's Controversial Visitor Center at Ballona Wetlands: Money Matters."

May 2013 -- Read about the plight of Lange's Cover of The Wild Onesmetalmark and the people working to save it in Jon Mooallem's new book The Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America. Includes Jana Johnson and The Butterfly Project crew, Ken Osborne, and Travis Longcore and Catherine Rich's essay "Invertebrate Conservation at the Gates of Hell."

March 2013 -- Earth Island Journal has a short article quoting UWG research on night lighting, including on avian mortality. Read "And Incredibly Bright" by Holly Haworth.

February 11, 2013 -- UWG's work on feral cat issues was featured in an investigative report by KCET's SoCal Connected, "L.A.'s Proposed No-Kill Policy Raises Hackles on Both Sides." Science Director Travis Longcore's quote in the piece was meant to communicate that there is in truth no such thing as a feral cat policy that is "no kill." If cats are left out in the environment, then birds and other wildlife will be killed by them. This view was articulated in his invited op-ed for the newsletter of the American Bird Conservancy, Bird Calls. Read the October 2012 essay, No-Kill Movement Means Death for Birds.

December 27, 2012 -- Science Director Travis Longcore, Executive Officer Catherine Rich, GIS consultant Beau MacDonald, and co-authors published a new paper that estimates per-species mortality for birds killed at communication towers, in the journal Biological Conservation.

Longcore, T., C. Rich, P. Mineau, B. MacDonald, D. Bert, L. M. Sullivan, E. Mutrie, S. A. Gauthreaux Jr., M. L. Avery, R. L. Crawford, A. M. Manville II, E. R. Travis, and D. Drake. 2013. Avian mortality at communication towers in the United States and Canada: which species, how many, and where? Biological Conservation 158:410-419.

Coverage of the paper was published in a Scientific American podcast (Communication Towers Pluck Birds) and blog (Communication Towers are Death Traps for Threatened Bird Species), and ABC News (Radio and TV Towers Killing Songbirds; Solution Is Simple).

November 17, 2012 -- Science Director Travis Longcore spoke at a panel on "Airborne LA" at a meeting of the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Committee on the Environment. Report from panelist D. J. Waldie, Local Architects Looking Up: Aeriality and Los Angeles.

August 6, 2012 -- Science Director Travis Longcore, students from his UCLA senior practicum class, and colleagues published a paper on use of anticoagulant rodenticides in residential neighborhoods. These poisons harm non-target wildlife, so the best approach is to avoid using them!

Bartos, M., S. Dao, D. Douk, S. Falzone, E. Gumerlock, S. Hoekstra, K. Kelly-Reif, D. Mori, C. Tang, C. Vasquez, J. Ward, S. Young, A. Morzillo, S. P. D. Riley, and T. Longcore. Use of anticoagulant rodenticides in single-family neighborhoods along an urban-wildland interface in California. Cities and the Environment 4(1):art12 (2012).

May 20, 2012 -- We released a report on the status and variability of mission blue butterfly in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. GIS analyst and applied biogeographer Beau MacDonald took the lead in collaboration with Science Director Travis Longcore and Stu Weiss from Creekside Center for Earth Observation.

MacDonald, B., T. Longcore, and S. Weiss. Status and Variability of Mission Blue Butterfly Populations at Milagra Ridge, Marin Headlands, and Oakwood Valley. Los Angeles: The Urban Wildlands Group (report to Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy). 69 pp. (May 20, 2012).

April 25, 2012 -- A new scientific paper, led by UWG's Travis Longcore and Catherine Rich, estimating avian mortality at communication towers was published in PLoS ONE. The birds are attracted to the lights during nocturnal migration and collide with the towers and the cables holding them up. UWG's GIS consultant, Beau MacDonald, integrated (and did quality control on) three sources of tower data and made the maps. Agency representatives from the United States and Canada, as well as several pioneers in tower mortality studies collaborated on the paper.

Through coordination with and assistance from USC media relations, the story made news around the world.

Longcore, T., C. Rich, P. Mineau, B. MacDonald, D. Bert, L. M. Sullivan, E. Mutrie, S. A. Gauthreaux Jr., M. L. Avery, R. L. Crawford, A. M. Manville II, E. R. Travis, and D. Drake 2012. An estimate of avian mortality at communication towers in the United States and Canada. PLoS ONE 7(4):e34025.

Coverage from the New York Times Green Blog, Livescience, ScienceDaily, BBC (spanish), UPI,, High Country News, ABC News, Randy Loftis at the Dallas Morning News (reprinted), and many more in many languages. USC-produced video here.

February 9, 2012 -- Special congratulations to Adam Clause, outstanding alumnus of The Butterfly Project, who after a stint at UC Davis has now been accepted into ecology Ph.D. programs at UCLA and University of Georgia.

January 10, 2012 -- The Urban Wildlands Group and The Zoological Lighting Institute call on the Indianapolis Zoo to redesign a proposed orangutan enclosure that would attract and kill birds. Two features of the proposed building — expanses of glass and bright illumination at night — guarantee that it will kill migratory birds, which are attracted to tall, lighted structures at night and then collide with and are killed by glass during the day. See full press release.

Older news...



Ecological Consequences of
Artificial Night Lighting

Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting (Island Press), edited by Catherine Rich and Travis Longcore

See reviews in Science, The Quarterly Review of Biology, Biological Conservation, The Auk, The Condor, and Northeastern Naturalist.

VIDEO: Lights Out! For Nature

"Ecological Light Pollution" in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Conference Information

Vincent Thomas Bridge, San Pedro

Habitat Protection and Restoration

Ballona Wetlands Biota and Historical Ecology Resources

Vision for El Segundo dunes at LAX

Successful Opposition to Waterview Street Landscaping Project at LAX

Beach Bluffs Restoration Project

Ecological Effects of Fuel Modification (Fire Clearance)

Urban Oaks

Spiraling Roots (collaborative project on phytoremediation of urban soils with native plants; report)

UCLA's Campus Forest: A Community Resource

Western Snowy Plover

Status and Trends in Recovery Unit 5

Butterflies and Moths

Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly

El Segundo Blue Butterfly

Lange's Metalmark Butterfly

Laguna Mountain Skipper

Quino Checkerspot Butterfly

Callippe Silverspot Butterfly

Santa Monica Mountains Hairstreak

Kern Primrose Sphinx Moth

INCA (INsect Count Analyzer for transect counts)

Humane Considerations in Wildlife Management

Lake Skinner Beavers

Resolving Wildlife Conflicts