Urbanization is known to decrease the richness and abundance of native wildlife populations, fragment natural areas, and increase human and human-commensal animal interactions with wildlife. Dynamics of species persistence in habitat fragments is often understood in the framework of island biogeography theory (IBT), with habitat fragments being analogous to oceanic islands. However, urban environments present different challenges to dispersal and persistence than literal oceanic islands, so the applicability of IBT to urban ecology is unclear. We investigated how small mammal communities respond to spatial and environmental factors associated with urbanization. These communities are important to consider in urban fragments because of their roles as prey animals, seed dispersers, and their potential to transmit viruses and parasites to humans and human-commensal animals. We trapped small mammals at 23 sites along an urban-to-rural gradient centered in Atlanta, Georgia, USA from May-August 2023. Sites were characterized by in situ environmental conditions such as temperature, ambient light, vegetation, and sound; additionally, we obtained landscape-level data on human population, land use, and socioeconomic variables from public databases. We integrated these data using geographic information systems (GIS) and modeled species richness and other community metrics using generalized linear models. Our preliminary conclusions are that small mammal communities differ between urban, suburban, and rural locations; that these differences are driven by the presence or absence of a small number of species; and that land cover surrounding sites had little impact on small mammal community structure. Further analyses will investigate how spatial, environmental, and socioeconomic factors affect small mammals in urbanizing landscapes.

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