Help our Research: Wild Suburbia Project

Since 2012, Chris and some of his upstate colleagues have run a citizen science program known as Wild Suburbia.  Residents of Westchester, Putnam, NY, and Fairfield, CT (and pretty much anywhere else) can submit sightings of 5 different wildlife species via an online form.  If you live outside of NYC and Long Island, please take a look and let us know what you've seen (and not seen)!

Recently we've added a NYC-Long Island survey to Wild Suburbia, so if you are interested in helping with coyote and fox research in the City or on Long Island, you can now also participate in the Wild Suburbia Project.

In NYC and Long Island, we are collecting sightings (and possible sightings) of red fox, gray fox, and coyote (see pic below). We are also collecting "non-sightings" -- if you have not seen these species on your own property, we would like to know that too.

The two fox species are known to live in Long Island but we would like to examine their distribution in detail.

The third, coyotes, are not yet present on Long Island in terms of permanent breeding populations (a few wander from the mainland now and then) but are expected to establish themselves permanently in the near future, as they have done throughout North America. This project is an effort to find the first few "founder" coyote groups and monitor the expansion of this species as a complement to our work in the Gotham Coyote Project. The only way to monitor a huge land mass such as Long Island is to enlist the help of residents.

The website has more info, instructions, and resources to help you identify the three species. You can also contact project coordinators with any questions.


GCP featured on Swedish TV's Mitt i Naturen

The Gotham Coyote Project was featured on a recent episode of Swedish Television's "Mitt i Naturen".  While it is primarily in Swedish, much of the episode is in English, as the producers had to interact with us Americans

The GCP is featured around 22:00 and includes an interview with Chris Nagy of the Mianus River Gorge and a segment where we set up a trail camera in a park in the Bronx.

Watch the episode here

The episode begins with an interview with Professor Jason Munshi-South on his overall work on urban ecology and urban wildlife genetics.  Jason is a good friend and collaborator on the GCP as well.  The second and fourth segments feature great footage of urban birds, including falcons and (I think) goshawks in Stockholm.  These segments are entirely in Swedish but include great footage and bird sightings.

The final segment returns to NYC and Jason, along with his student, Steven Harris, and goes into more depth about their research on the evolution of white-footed mice in NYC parks.

For more on Jason's and Steven's research, visit

There's much to admire about coyotes

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Scientists say it's only a matter of timeAbove, an Eastern coyote roams in the Appalachian Mountains. Photo Credit: iStockREAD MOREScientists say it's only a matter of time before coyotes take up residence on Long Island. 

Jumping the Fence

coyote headshot1

Re-posted  from the Center for Humans and Nature's City Creatures Blog 

I don’t think I ever felt deprived of nature growing up in Brooklyn. To a little kid, New York City’s parks felt huge with endless room for adventure. I am still exploring them today. My block was not the most picturesque of streets, but it was a home for stately, beautiful Norway maples. ...Read More »

It’s a “coyote-wolf-dog eat dog” world

Is it considered cannibalism when a coyote eats a dog, but the coyote is actually a coyote-dog hybrid?  Maybe the cannibalism question is akin to counting angels on pinheads, but it is true that coyotes - on occasion - eat pets (e.g. small dogs and outside cats) and that coyote-dog hybrids come aplenty.  My recent research1 revealed that northeastern coyotes form what is called a “hybrid swarm,” a population of genetically admixed individuals that descended from an initial hybrid generation.  All of 425 eastern coyotes that were analyzed across a vast region of the US and Canada had a genetic signal of past hybridization with dogs; the average eastern coyote is actually about 10% dog in its genetic makeup.  It gets more complicated.  It turns out that wolves are also involved in a canine ménage à trois, and not just one but two species of wolves.  So besides being about 10% dog, the average northeastern coyote is also about 13% eastern wolf and 13% western gray wolf.  That leaves only 64% of the genome of the northeastern coyote that can be traced to actual coyote ancestry.

So what shall we call this chimeric canid?  Some rural New Yorkers and New Englanders call it “Coydog.”  Some scientists propose to call it “Coywolf.”  I think “Coydolf” more appropriately reflect its complex hybrid origin, but still prefer the less creative moniker “Eastern Coyote.” Interestingly, the degree of genetic wolf-likeness is not distributed randomly or uniformly across the Northeast; coyotes inhabiting areas with more deer tend to be more wolf-like.  This suggests that hybridization between coyotes and wolves introduced adaptive genetic variation that allowed coyotes to colonize eastern forests and exploit a landscape rich with deer prey.  It also demonstrates that adaptation can occur very rapidly and at fine geographic scales.  Perhaps, the remarkable adaptability of the Eastern Coyote will allow it to replace motorists as the apex predator that regulates suburban deer populations.

by Javier Monzón

Dr. Monzón is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Stony Brook University.  He recently completed his doctoral work  on the population genomics of the eastern coyote and  is currently conducting epidemiological studies on  the lone star tick. Find out more about Dr. Monzón's work @ 

1 Monzón, J., Kays, R., Dykhuizen, D.E., 2014. Assessment of coyote-wolf-dog admixture using ancestry-informative diagnosticSNPs. Molecular Ecology vol 23: 182–197.