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Use of anthropogenic material affects bird nest arthropod community structure: influence of urbanisation, and consequences for ectoparasites and fledging success

Hanmer, H. J.,, Thomas, R. L., Beswick, G. J. F., Collins, B. P. and Fellowes, M. D. E. (2017) Use of anthropogenic material affects bird nest arthropod community structure: influence of urbanisation, and consequences for ectoparasites and fledging success. Journal of Ornithology, 158 (4). pp. 1045-1059. ISSN 0021-8375

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10336-017-1462-7

Abstract/Summary

Nests are a critically important factor in determining the breeding success of many species of birds. Nevertheless, we have surprisingly little understanding of how local environment helps shape materials used in construction, how this differs among related species using similar nest sites, or if materials used directly or indirectly influence the numbers of offspring successfully reared. We also have little understanding of any potential links between nest construction and the assemblage of invertebrates which inhabit the nest and in particular, with ectoparasites. We addressed these questions by monitoring the success rates of nest-box using Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus and Great Tits Parus major, from rural, urban greenspace and urban garden settings. We collected used nests, identified arthropods present, and measured the proportions of highly processed anthropogenic materials used in their construction. Some 25% of Great Tit nest materials were of an anthropogenic source and this was consistent across habitats, while Blue Tits used little (1-2%) except in gardens (~16%), suggesting that Great Tits preferentially sought out these materials. In fledged nests, increasing use of anthropogenic material was associated with lower general arthropod diversity and ectoparasite predator abundance (Blue Tits only) but higher levels of Siphonapterans (fleas). Higher arthropod diversity was associated with lower flea numbers, suggesting that increased diversity played a role in limiting flea numbers. No direct link was found between breeding success and either anthropogenic material usage, or arthropod diversity and abundance. However, breeding success declined with increasing urbanisation in both species and increased with nest weight in Blue Tits. The interplay between urbanisation and bird ecology is complex; our work shows that subtle anthropogenic influences may have indirect and unexpected consequences for urban birds.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:70144
Publisher:Springer

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