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Sci Rep ; 11(1): 17649, 2021 09 03.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34480051


The ubiquitous activity of humans is a fundamental feature of urban environments affecting local wildlife in several ways. Testing the influence of human disturbance would ideally need experimental approach, however, in cities, this is challenging at relevant spatial and temporal scales. Thus, to better understand the ecological effects of human activity, we exploited the opportunity that the city-wide lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic provided during the spring of 2020. We assessed changes in reproductive success of great tits (Parus major) at two urban habitats affected strikingly differently by the 'anthropause', and at an unaffected forest site. Our results do not support that urban great tits benefited from reduced human mobility during the lockdown. First, at one of our urban sites, the strongly (- 44%) reduced human disturbance in 2020 (compared to a long-term reference period) did not increase birds' reproductive output relative to the forest habitat where human disturbance was low in all years. Second, in the other urban habitat, recreational human activity considerably increased (+ 40%) during the lockdown and this was associated with strongly reduced nestling body size compared to the pre-COVID reference year. Analyses of other environmental factors (meteorological conditions, lockdown-induced changes in air pollution) suggest that these are not likely to explain our results. Our study supports that intensified human disturbance can have adverse fitness consequences in urban populations. It also highlights that a few months of 'anthropause' is not enough to counterweight the detrimental impacts of urbanization on local wildlife populations.

COVID-19 , Ecossistema , Quarentena , Reprodução/fisiologia , SARS-CoV-2 , Aves Canoras/fisiologia , Animais , COVID-19/epidemiologia , COVID-19/prevenção & controle , Cidades/epidemiologia , Feminino , Humanos , Masculino
Biol Futur ; 71(1-2): 99-108, 2020 Jun.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34554536


Since male and female offspring may have different costs and benefits, parents may use sex ratio adjustment to increase their own fitness under different environmental conditions. Urban habitats provide poorer conditions for nestling development in many birds. Therefore, we investigated whether great tits (Parus major) produce different brood sex ratios in urban and natural habitats. We determined the sex of nestlings of 126 broods in two urban and two forest sites between 2012 and 2014 by molecular sexing. We found that brood sex ratio did not differ significantly between urban and forest habitats either at egg-laying or near fledging. Male offspring were larger than females in both habitats. This latter result suggests that male offspring may be more costly to raise than females, yet our findings suggest that urban great tits do not produce more daughters despite the unfavourable breeding conditions. This raises the possibility that other aspects of urban life, such as better post-fledging survival, might favour males and thereby compensate for the extra energetic costs of producing male offspring.

Ecol Appl ; 28(5): 1143-1156, 2018 07.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29679462


Urbanization can have marked effects on plant and animal populations' phenology, population size, predator-prey, interactions and reproductive success. These aspects are rarely studied simultaneously in a single system, and some are rarely investigated, e.g., how insect phenology responds to urban development. Here, we study a tri-trophic system of trees, phytophagous insects (caterpillars), and insectivorous birds (Great Tits) to assess how urbanization influences (1) the phenology of each component of this system, (2) insect abundance, and (3) avian reproductive success. We use data from two urban and two forest sites in Hungary, central Europe, collected over four consecutive years. Despite a trend of earlier leaf emergence in urban sites, there is no evidence for an earlier peak in caterpillar abundance. Thus, contrary to the frequently stated prediction in the literature, the earlier breeding of urban bird populations is not associated with an earlier peak in caterpillar availability. Despite this the seasonal dynamics of caterpillar biomass exhibited striking differences between habitat types with a single clear peak in forests, and several much smaller peaks in urban sites. Caterpillar biomass was higher in forests than urban areas across the entire sampling period, and between 8.5 and 24 times higher during the first brood's chick-rearing period. This higher biomass was not associated with taller trees in forest sites, or with tree species identity, and occurred despite most of our focal trees being native to the study area. Urban Great Tits laid smaller clutches, experienced more frequent nestling mortality from starvation, reared fewer offspring to fledging age, and their fledglings had lower body mass. Our study strongly indicates that food limitation is responsible for lower avian reproductive success in cities, which is driven by reduced availability of the preferred nestling diet, i.e., caterpillars, rather than phenological shifts in the timing of peak food availability.

Cadeia Alimentar , Mariposas/fisiologia , Reprodução , Aves Canoras/fisiologia , Urbanização , Animais , Hungria , Larva/crescimento & desenvolvimento , Larva/fisiologia , Mariposas/crescimento & desenvolvimento , Densidade Demográfica , Dinâmica Populacional , Estações do Ano
Anim Cogn ; 20(1): 53-63, 2017 Jan.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27294267


Success in problem solving, a form of innovativeness, can help animals exploit their environments, and recent research suggests that it may correlate with reproductive success. Innovativeness has been proposed to be especially beneficial in urbanized habitats, as suggested by superior problem-solving performance of urban individuals in some species. If there is stronger selection for innovativeness in cities than in natural habitats, we expect problem-solving performance to have a greater positive effect on fitness in more urbanized habitats. We tested this idea in great tits (Parus major) breeding at two urban sites and two forests by measuring their problem-solving performance in an obstacle-removal task and a food-acquisition task. Urban pairs were significantly faster problem-solvers in both tasks. Solving speed in the obstacle-removal task was positively correlated with hatching success and the number of fledglings, whereas performance in the food-acquisition task did not correlate with reproductive success. These relationships did not differ between urban and forest habitats. Neophobia, sensitivity to human disturbance, and risk taking in the presence of a predator did not explain the relationships of problem-solving performance either with habitat type or with reproductive success. Our results suggest that the benefit of innovativeness in terms of reproductive success is similar in urban and natural habitats, implying that problem-solving skills may be enhanced in urban populations by some other benefits (e.g. increased survival) or reduced costs (e.g. more opportunities to gain practice with challenging tasks).

Passeriformes , Resolução de Problemas , Reprodução , Animais , Ecossistema , Florestas
Anim Cogn ; 18(1): 291-8, 2015 Jan.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-25164623


Wild animals living in proximity to humans may benefit from recognizing people individually and adjusting their behaviour to the potential risk or gain expected from each person. Although several urban-dwelling species exhibit such skills, it is unclear whether this is due to pre-existing advanced cognitive abilities of taxa predisposed for city life or arises specifically in urban populations either by selection or through ontogenetic changes facilitated by exposure to humans. To test these alternatives, we studied populations of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) along the urbanization gradient. We manipulated the birds' experience (hostile or not) associated with humans with different faces (masks) and measured their behavioural responses to the proximity of each person. Contrary to our expectations, we found that while rural birds showed less fear of the non-hostile than of the hostile or an unfamiliar person, urban birds made no distinction. These results indicate that house sparrows are less able to recognize individual humans or less willing to behaviourally respond to them in more urbanized habitats with high human population density. We propose several mechanisms that may explain this difference, including reduced pay-off of discrimination due to a low chance of repeated interactions with city people, or a higher likelihood that city people will ignore them.

Reconhecimento Psicológico , Pardais , Animais , Animais Selvagens/psicologia , Reconhecimento Facial , Humanos , Assunção de Riscos , Urbanização