The evolutionary consequences of human–wildlife conflict in cities

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Human–wildlife interactions, including human–wildlife conflict, are increasingly common as expanding urbanization worldwide creates more opportunities for people to encounter wildlife. Wildlife–vehicle collisions, zoonotic disease transmission, property damage, and physical attacks to people or their pets have negative consequences for both people and wildlife, underscoring the need for comprehensive strategies that mitigate and prevent conflict altogether. Management techniques often aim to deter, relocate, or remove individual organisms, all of which may present a significant selective force in both urban and nonurban systems. Management-induced selection may significantly affect the adaptive or nonadaptive evolutionary processes of urban populations, yet few studies explicate the links among conflict, wildlife management, and urban evolution. Moreover, the intensity of conflict management can vary considerably by taxon, public perception, policy, religious and cultural beliefs, and geographic region, which underscores the complexity of developing flexible tools to reduce conflict. Here, we present a cross-disciplinary perspective that integrates human–wildlife conflict, wildlife management, and urban evolution to address how social–ecological processes drive wildlife adaptation in cities. We emphasize that variance in implemented management actions shapes the strength and rate of phenotypic and evolutionary change. We also consider how specific management strategies either promote genetic or plastic changes, and how leveraging those biological inferences could help optimize management actions while minimizing conflict. Investigating human–wildlife conflict as an evolutionary phenomenon may provide insights into how conflict arises and how management plays a critical role in shaping urban wildlife phenotypes.

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Evolutionary Applications



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