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Physical condition of Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) in relation to road disturbance

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Roads and their associated low-frequency noise have been linked with a reduction in abundance and density for many songbird species. However, a handful of species remain equally abundant in roadside habitats and nondisturbed areas. Abundance is a valuable baseline indicator of a species’ ability to adapt to habitats altered by roads, but does not directly ascertain whether health is affected in these species. Here we examine whether Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus (L., 1766)), a species that remains abundant near roads, exhibit higher levels of chronic stress or reduced physical condition when residing near roads. Neither hematological measures of chronic stress, nor any of our measures of physical condition, differed significantly between Black-capped Chickadees inhabiting areas near or far from roads. Our results suggest that health and physical condition, like abundance, are not significantly affected by roads in the Black-capped Chickadee. This species may be an ideal model for understanding how some songbird species adapt to roads and the noise that they produce.

Keywords: Black-capped Chickadee; Poecile atricapillus; bird; bruit; distance; health; mésange à tête noire; noise; oiseau; road; route; santé; stress

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada. 2: Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada.

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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  • 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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