Living in the concrete jungle: a review and socio-ecological perspective of urban raptor habitat quality in Europe

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Raptors can be important components of urban ecosystems due to their role as apex predators, the presence of which may bring benefits to people. Urban environments may provide good quality habitats, and the raptors’ ability to utilize resources found here can contribute to their success. However, urban environments are socio-ecological systems and such mechanisms shaping habitats and ecological resources therein are less understood. This paper explores how raptors utilize urban resources, and the socio-ecological processes influencing their quality and availability. It begins with a systematic mapping of the literature to summarize the utility of urban resources by raptors with European distributions. Eighteen species were documented in the literature successfully exploiting novel hunting and/or nesting opportunities in both green and built-up locations of urban areas. We discuss how these may be consequential of human activities, some of which intentionally provided as subsidies, and how their utility by raptors create opportunities for human-raptor interactions further shaping public perception and decisions which potentially affect the raptors. Finally, we demonstrate these concepts by drawing on our experience from an urban peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) conservation site in London, UK. The paper concludes with a call for urban raptor conservation and research to consider social and ecological aspects together, appropriately reflecting urban environments as socio-ecological systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1179-1199
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number6
Early online date7 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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