A country-wide examination of effects of urbanization on common birds

L. Brouwer* (Co-auteur), E. H.J. de Vries, H. Sierdsema, H. P. van der Jeugd

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan wetenschappelijk tijdschrift/periodieke uitgaveArtikelWetenschappelijkpeer review


Urbanization forms one of the most drastic alterations of the environment and poses a major threat to wildlife. The human–induced modifications of the landscape may affect individual's fitness resulting in population declines. Research on how urbanization affects fitness traits has shown mixed results. However, studies typically contrasted data from a single species from few urban and non-urban sites collected over short timeframes. Examining multiple species across a broad urbanization gradient enables a more robust comparison and understanding of how different species are impacted by urbanization-knowledge crucial for generating population predictions, which are essential for conservation management. Here, we use data from a nation-wide citizen science project to examine variation in survival and relative body mass and size (wing length) of common passerine birds, collected along an urbanization gradient in the Netherlands over an 8-year period. Urbanization was measured as the distance from the city's border and the proportion of impervious surface area. Although the overall association between urbanization and survival was slightly negative, there was support for lower survival closer to the city in three species (chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita, European robin Erithacus rubecula, European greenfinch Chloris chloris) and higher survival closer to the city in two (great tit Parus major and house sparrow Passer domesticus) of the 11 species examined. The contrasting survival successes among species suggest that ongoing urbanization may lead to shifts in community structure and loss of biodiversity. Impacts of urbanization on relative mass and size also exhibited varying effects, albeit less pronounced, and these effects were not correlated with the effects on survival. This implies that body mass and size cannot be used as indicators for urban-associated patterns of survival. Our results further imply that effective conservation management targeting bird communities should involve a range of diverse actions, as focusing on single measures is unlikely to simultaneously impact multiple species due to the variation in responses to urbanization.

Originele taal-2Engels
TijdschriftAnimal Conservation
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 26 mei 2024


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