Charles Nilon, PhD

William J. Rucker Professor

School of Natural Resources

Graduate Emphasis Area Coordinator - Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

School of Natural Resources

Undergraduate Degree Program Coordinator - Natural Resource Science and Management

School of Natural Resources

Contact Information

Phone 573-882-3738
Address 302 Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building
Website Google Scholar


  • PhD, 1986, SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry


  • Urban Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Human Dimensions in Natural Resources

Research Summary

  • Nilon’s research considers the impact of urbanization on wildlife habitats, populations and communities. From 1997-2020 Nilon was a co-principal investigator on the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES), one of two urban ecosystems included in the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research program. His work with the BES focused on understanding how ecological and socioeconomic factors influence bird species composition and abundance. Because urban areas are homes for people as well as wildlife, Nilon’s research also considers the role of nature as part of an individual’s day-to-day environment, and environmental justice issues associated with access to nature. Nilon and his students have worked on projects Columbia and St. Louis that seek to understand how people perceive open spaces in their neighborhood. Recently he has collaborated with colleagues from the MU School of Medicine on a project studying the kinds of open spaces where children are active. Since 2010 Nilon has been a principal investigator on four synthesis projects that are compiling data from more than 150 of the world’s cities. The projects seek to understand global patterns of biodiversity in cities, the filters that shape species composition in cities, and the social and ecological factors that shape patterns of abundance in cities, and apply that information to management, conservation and planning programs.

Selected Publications

  • Knapp, S, M.F.J. Aronson, E. Carpenter, A. Herrera-Montes, K. Jung, D.J. Kotze, F. A. La Sorte, C.A. Lepczyk, I. MacGregor-Fors, J.S. MacIvor, M. Moretti, C.H.Nilon, M.R. Piana, C.C. Rega-Brodsky, A. Salisbury, C.C. Threlfall, C. Trisos, N.S.G, Williams, and A.K.Hahs. 2021. A research agenda for urban biodiversity in the global extinction crisis. BioScience 71:268-279.
  • Kuras, E.R., P.S. Warren, J.A. Zinda, M.F.J. Aronson, S.Cilliers, M.A. Goddard, C.H.Nilon, R. Winkler. Urban socioeconomic inequality and biodiversity often converge, but not always: A global meta-analysis. Landscape and Urban Planning 198:103799.
  • Pickett, S.T.A., M.L. Cadenasso, M.E. Baker, L.E. Band, C.C. Boone, G.E. Buckley, P.M. Groffman, J.M. Grove, E.G. Irwin, S.S. Kaushal, S.L. LaDeau, A.J. Miller, C.H. Nilon, M. Romolini, E.J. Rosi, C.M. Swan, K. And K. Szlavecz. 2020. Theoretical perspectives of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study: Conceptual evolution in a social–ecological research project. BioScience.
  • La Sorte, F.A., C.A. Lepczyk, M.F.J. Aronson, M.A. Goddard, M. Hedblom, M. Katti, I. MacGregor-Fors, U. Mörtberg, C.H. Nilon, P.S. Warren, N.S.G. Williams, J. Yang. The phylogenetic and functional diversity of regional breeding bird assemblages is reduced and constricted through urbanization. Diversity and Distributions DOI: 10.1111/ddi.127838
  • Rega-Brodsky, C.C. Rega-Brodsky CC, Nilon CH, Warren PS (2018) Balancing urban biodiversity needs and resident preferences for vacant lot management. Sustainability 10:1679
  • Nilon C.H., M.F.J., Aronson, S.S. Cilliers, D. Dobbs, L.J. Frazee, M.A. Goddard, K.M. O’Neill, D. Roberts, E.K. Stander, P. Werner, M. Winter, and K.P. Yocom. 2017. Planning for the future of urban biodiversity: A global review of city-scale initiatives. BioScience 67:332–342.
  • Matisziw T.C., C.H. Nilon. S.A.Wilhelm Stanis, J.W. LeMaster, J.A. McElroy, S.P. Sayers. 2016. The right space at the right time: The relationship between children’s physical activity and land use/land cover. Landscape and Urban Planning 151:21–32
  • Aronson, M.F.J, F.A. La Sorte, C.H. Nilon, M.Katti, M.A. Goddard, C.A. Lepczyk, P.S. Warren, N.S.G. Williams, S. Cilliers, B. Clarkson, C. Dobbs, R. Dolan, M. Hedblom, S. Klotz, J. Louwe Kooijmans, I. Kuhn, I. MacGregor-Fors, M. McDonnell, U. Mortberg, P. Pysek,  S. Siebert, J. Sushinsky, P. Werner, and M. Winter. 2014. A global analysis of the impacts of urbanization on bird and plant diversity reveals key anthropogenic drivers. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. DOI 10.1098/rspb.2013.3330
  • Parker, T.S., S.K. Gonzales, and C.H. Nilon. 2014. Seasonal comparisons of daily activity budgets of gray squirrels Sciurus carolinensis) in urban areas. Urban Ecosystems DOI 10.1007/s11252-014-371-2
  • Müller, N., M. Iganatieva, C.H. Nilon, Werner, and W.C. Zipperer. 2013. Patterns and trends in urban biodiversity and landscape design. Pages 123-174 in, T. Elmqvist et al., eds. Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities. Springer Netherlands, Amsterdam.
  • Pickett, S.T.A., G.S. Brush, A.J. Felson, B.P. McGrath, J.M. Grove, C.H. Nilon, K. Szlavecz, C. Swan, P.S. Warren. 2012. The Baltimore Ecosystem Study: Understanding and working with urban biodiversity. CityGreen 4. ResearchGate
  • Van Velsor, S.M. and C.H. Nilon. 2008. A qualitative investigation of the urban African-American and Latino adolescent experience with wildlife. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 11:359-370.
  • Middendorf, G. and C. Nilon. 2005. A cross-town walk to assess environmental changes along an urban socioeconomic gradient. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology 3: Experiment 3.
  • Berkowitz, A.R., C.H. Nilon, and K.S. Hollweg, eds. 2002. Understanding urban ecosystems: A new frontier for science and education. Springer-Verlag, New York.