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      Quantifying avian nest survival along an urbanization gradient using citizen- and scientist-generated data.

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          Abstract

          Despite the increasing pace of urbanization little is known about the factors that limit bird populations (i.e., population-level processes) within the urban/suburban land-use matrix. Here, we report rates of nest survival within the matrix of an urban land-use gradient in the greater Washington, D.C., USA, area for five common songbirds using data collected by scientists and citizens as part of a project called Neighborhood Nestwatch. Using program MARK, we modeled the effects of species, urbanization at multiple spatial scales (canopy cover and impervious surface), and observer (citizen vs. scientist) on nest survival of four open-cup and one cavity-nesting species. In addition, artificial nests were used to determine the relative impacts of specific predators along the land-use gradient. Our results suggest that predation on nests within the land-use matrix declines with urbanization but that there are species-specific differences. Moreover, variation in nest survival among species was best explained by urbanization metrics measured at larger "neighborhood" spatial scales (e.g., 1000 m). Trends were supported by data from artificial nests and suggest that variable predator communities (avian vs. mammalian) are one possible mechanism to explain differential nest survival. In addition, we assessed the quality of citizen science data and show that citizens had no negative effect on nest survival and provided estimates of nest survival comparable to Smithsonian biologists. Although birds nesting within the urban matrix experienced higher nest survival, individuals also faced a multitude of other challenges such as contaminants and invasive species, all of which could reduce adult survival.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Ecol Appl
          Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America
          1051-0761
          1051-0761
          Mar 2010
          : 20
          : 2
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, National Zoological Park, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20008, USA. rydert@si.edu
          Article
          10.1890/09-0040.1
          20405796

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