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Black-billed Magpies (Pica pica) adjust nest characteristics to adapt to urbanization in Hangzhou, China

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Abstract:

Although many bird species worldwide are colonizing urban environments, the ecological processes underlying the responses to urbanization remain unclear. Here we examined the responses of Black-billed Magpies (Pica pica (L., 1758)) to urbanization across an urban-rural gradient by assessing nest locations, nest height, and available nest sites at six habitats (mountains, farmlands, riparians, urban parks, strips of street trees, building areas) in Hangzhou, China. In each habitat, we categorized used and available nest sites as urban (e.g., chimneys, antenna or cable poles, ledges, and open roofs on buildings) or natural (e.g., trees) nest sites. We found 147 magpie nests in five of the six habitats, and no nests in mountains. The use of urban nest sites by magpies differed significantly across habitats, and it increased significantly with the availability of urban nest sites along the urban gradients. Nest height of magpies differed significantly across habitats, and it increased significantly with urbanization intensity. The increase in nest height in urban environments can be attributed to the increases in human disturbance (the number of pedestrians). Our results indicate that magpies can adjust their nest characteristics in response to urbanization, and that nesting behavior shifts may aid them to adapt to urban systems.

Bien que partout dans le monde plusieurs espèces d’oiseaux colonisent les environnements urbains, les processus écologiques qui sous-tendent leurs réactions à l’urbanisation sont mal compris. Nous examinons ici les réactions de la pie bavarde (Pica pica (L., 1758)) à l’urbanisation le long d’un gradient urbain-rural en déterminant la position et la hauteur des nids et les sites de nidification disponibles dans six habitats (montagnes, terres agricoles, zones de rivage, parcs urbains, rangées d’arbres le long de rues, bâtiments) à Hangzhou, Chine. Dans chaque habitat, nous avons caractérisé les sites de nidification utilisés et disponibles d’urbains (par ex., cheminées, antennes ou poteaux électriques, corniches et toits ouverts sur bâtiment) ou de naturels (par ex., arbres). Nous avons observé 147 nids de pies dans cinq des six habitats, dont aucun dans les montagnes. L’utilisation des sites de nidification urbains varie significativement d’un habitat à l’autre; elle augmente significativement en fonction de la disponibilité des sites de nidification urbains le long des gradients urbains. La hauteur des nids des pies varie significativement d’un habitat à un autre et elle augmente significativement en fonction de l’intensité de l’urbanisation. L’augmentation de la hauteur des nids dans les environnements urbains peut être attribuée à l’accroissement de la perturbation par les humains (le nombre de piétons). Nos résultats indiquent que les pies peuvent ajuster les caractéristiques de leur nid à l’urbanisation et que des modifications de leur comportement de nidification peuvent les aider à s’adapter aux systèmes urbains.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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