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Human influences on antipredator behaviour in Darwin’s finches


Gotanda, Kiyoko (2019), Human influences on antipredator behaviour in Darwin’s finches, Dryad, Dataset,


1) Humans exert dramatic influences upon the environment, creating novel selective pressures to which organisms must adapt. On the Galapagos, humans have established a permanent presence and have altered selective pressures through influences such as invasive predators and urbanization, affecting iconic species such as Darwin’s finches.

2) Here, I ask two key questions: (i) does antipredator behaviour (e.g. flight initiation distance – FID) change depending on whether invasive predators are historically absent, present, or eradicated? and (ii) to what degree does urbanization affect antipredator behaviour? This study is one of the first to quantify antipredator behaviour in endemic species after the eradication of invasive predators. This will help to understand the consequences of invasive predator eradication and inform conservation measures.

3) I quantified FID, an antipredator behaviour, in Darwin’s finches, across multiple islands in the Galapagos that varied in the presence, absence, or successful eradication of invasive predators. On islands with human populations, I quantified FID in urban and non-urban populations of finches.

4) FID was higher on islands with invasive predators compared to islands with no predators. On islands from which invasive predators were eradicated ~11 years previously, FID was also higher than on islands with no invasive predators. Within islands that had both urban and non-urban populations of finches, FID was lower in urban finch populations, but only above a threshold human population size. FID in larger urban areas on islands with invasive predators was similar to or lower than FID on islands with no history of invasive predators.

5) Overall, these results suggest that invasive predators can have a lasting effect on antipredator behaviour, even after eradication. Furthermore, the effect of urbanization can strongly oppose the effect of invasive predators, reducing antipredator behaviour to levels lower than found on pristine islands with no human influences. These results improve our understanding of human influences on antipredator behaviour which can help inform future conservation and management efforts on islands.