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Urban parks as shared spaces? The utility of alert distances as indicators of avian tolerance of humans in Stirling, Scotland

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Urban avian foraging is strongly affected by approaching people. Avian alert distances, the instant of a bird's appraisal of human intrusion, have not been studied in a comparative mode for passerines, despite their prominent ecological importance in parks. Alert distances for 13 passerines were examined in parks in Stirling, Scotland, using an innovative approach emphasizing human behaviour and periods between alert and flight distances, termed alert periods. Larger species were less tolerant of humans, although attracted to human wastes. Alert distances also varied according to vegetation variation. Park design may use alert distances to plan vegetation layout as well as reduce disturbing human behaviour.

Keywords: Stirling; alert distances; bird tolerance; green spaces; park design; passerine

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Sussex, Brighton, Sussex BN1 9SJ, Email:

Publication date: 2006-09-01

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