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Urbanisation lowers great tit (Parus major) breeding success at multiple spatial scales

Citation

de Satge, Jacques (2019), Urbanisation lowers great tit (Parus major) breeding success at multiple spatial scales, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.xgxd254bw

Abstract

While numerous studies have reported negative effects of urbanisation on birds, few have examined the role of urban scale in influencing breeding success and many studies have relied on qualitative rather than quantitative assessments of urbanisation. This study sought to address these issues by testing the effects of urbanisation, measured at two spatial scales, on the breeding success of great tits Parus major. A nested study design, incorporating over 400 nestboxes, was used in study sites across northern Belgium with a priori quantified degrees of urbanisation at both local and regional scales. All measured breeding parameters were found to vary at one or both spatial scales of urbanisation; in more urbanised areas great tits displayed advanced laying dates but lower breeding success compared to rural areas, with smaller clutch sizes, lower nestling masses and fewer fledglings per egg. Importantly, urbanisation effects were not limited to big cities as birds breeding in gardens or parks in small towns also had comparatively low success. We found that both regional- and local-scale urbanisation had consistent significant effects on laying date, clutch size and nestling mass, while the number of fledglings per egg was negatively influenced by local-scale urbanisation only. Results of this study therefore highlight the importance of utilising multiple spatial scales in analysing urbanisation effects, as well as the potential negative impact of local urbanisation on breeding success. This calls for further investigation into mechanisms driving urbanisation effects and how these may vary at different scales.