Dominant bird species found to be more successful than weaker species in economically advanced cities

November 6, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Science X Network, Phys.org report
A peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) overlooks Chicago, Illinois. Credit: Derek Zaraza (photographer)

A pair of researchers with Queen's University in Canada has found that dominant species of birds in economically advanced cities have higher numbers than weaker species. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Paul Martin and Frances Bonier describe their study of hundreds of bird species living in cities around the globe and what they found.

A lot of birds live in modern cities—most of them are, of course, of that have been able to adapt to urban habitats. In this new effort, the researchers wondered about the survivability of birds well suited to urbanization, but which face very stiff competition from other birds that are closely related to them—black-capped chickadees versus mountain chickadees, for example. To learn more, they compiled data on over 300 species of birds living in 260 cities around the world. They then compared breeding propensity for 142 closely related species in the cities included in the study. They also noted whether the birds of each species were considered dominant or subordinate. Dominant birds could be physically dominant, such as being larger or having better weapons such as beaks and talons. But they could also be dominant by being better at obtaining food, leaving little for other species to eat.

The researchers found that in areas where there was no overlap of species in a given , dominant and subordinate populations were roughly equal. But in areas where there was overlapping range, that were more dominant tended to be more successful at reproducing and increasing their numbers—but only in cities that were in economically advanced countries. In cities in less developed countries, both species did equally well. The researchers were not able to offer an explanation for the difference but suggest that it could come down to resource availability.

The researchers suggest studies like theirs offer a better understanding of wildlife living in cites—something that is likely to grow in importance as cities across the globe continue to grow and change. They note that such studies also offer an opportunity to see evolution in progress.

Explore further: Bold and aggressive behaviour means birds thrive in cities

More information: Paul R. Martin et al. Species interactions limit the occurrence of urban-adapted birds in cities, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1809317115

Related Stories

Bold and aggressive behaviour means birds thrive in cities

April 16, 2018

Most people probably wouldn't consider bustling towns and cities good places for nature to thrive. Yet a few species of birds have so successfully adapted to city living that they boast large and thriving urban populations. ...

Study confirms that island birds have bigger brains

August 1, 2018

A team of researchers from Sweden, Canada and Spain has found evidence suggesting that birds that live on islands tend to have bigger brains than their mainland cousins. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, ...

Burly bird gets the worm

September 5, 2018

The pecking order of garden birds is determined by their size and weight, new research shows.

Recommended for you

Solar panels for yeast cell biofactories

November 15, 2018

Genetically engineered microbes such as bacteria and yeasts have long been used as living factories to produce drugs and fine chemicals. More recently, researchers have started to combine bacteria with semiconductor technology ...

Orangutan mothers found to engage in displaced reference

November 15, 2018

A pair of researchers with the University of St Andrews has observed orangutan mothers engaging in displaced reference after observation of a perceived threat. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, Adriano ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Anonym518498
1 / 5 (1) Nov 06, 2018
I hope no USA tax dollars went for this nonsense

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.