Mammals in Hamburg
Mammals in Hamburg come in all shapes and sizes. Defying urbanisation of their habitats, animals calling the city home range from mighty red deer and grey seals to the tiny soprano pipistrelle bats and pygmy shrews.
Many animals, like hazel dormice and Brandt’s bats, are categorized as extremely rare. White-toothed shrews had been listed as extinct since 1900 until their existence was verified in Hamburg again. Increasing water quality and better connections between bodies of water have allowed beavers and otters to return to their old Hamburg habitats. Even otherwise endangered species, like brown hares, maintain stable populations in Hamburg. Boar have even become a nuisance in some residential areas.
Some foreign mammals like raccoons, raccoon dogs and nutrias have also been introduced in the city’s biosphere.
The Mammal Atlas
All of these findings result from research that was conducted for the creation of the Hamburg Mammal Atlas. The 185-pages reader contains profiles, photos and distribution maps of 54 species endemic in Hamburg. In order to create the atlas, all mammal activity was counted over the course of a four-year period. As a next step, further data was gathered from a number of different sources, including numerous volunteering environmentalists.
In total, research proves that the overall situation for mammals in Hamburg has changed only slightly in comparison to the last release in 2002. Eight species were more endangered in 2016, while eight other species were rated less endangered. This is generally seen as a good sign, as Hamburg has grown significantly since then.
Mammals and Structural Change
More rural areas of Hamburg, such as Wohldorf-Ohlstedt, have remained particularly biodiverse. However, more central green areas are also important havens for mammal populations. Just like everywhere else, structural changes affect mammalian wildlife. Some species suffer significantly from the results of industrialisation, agriculture, and disconnected landscapes. Even species that are closely linked to human population, such as mice and rats, are highly or critically endangered, often due to a loss of natural habitats e.g. in the port area. Other species benefit from city planning measures. For instance, subsidised construction of rental housing is required by the municipality to include habitats for bats in the building structure.
A strong focus on nature reserves is also key to maintaining a healthy diversity of fauna. Plans have been finalised for three reserves since 2015 and eleven more are being devised. Within the next several years, a total of 9.5% of Hamburg’s surface area will be made up of by nature reserves, still making Hamburg the top-ranking federal state in this regard.