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Time since urbanization but not encephalisation is associated with increased tolerance of human proximity in birds

Symonds, Matthew R.E., Weston, Michael A., Van Dongen, Wouter F.D., Lill, Alan, Robinson, Randall W. and Guay, Patrick-Jean 2016, Time since urbanization but not encephalisation is associated with increased tolerance of human proximity in birds, Frontiers in ecology and evolution, vol. 4, Article number: 117, pp. 1-9, doi: 10.3389/fevo.2016.00117.

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Title Time since urbanization but not encephalisation is associated with increased tolerance of human proximity in birds
Author(s) Symonds, Matthew R.E.ORCID iD for Symonds, Matthew R.E. orcid.org/0000-0002-9785-6045
Weston, Michael A.ORCID iD for Weston, Michael A. orcid.org/0000-0002-8717-0410
Van Dongen, Wouter F.D.
Lill, Alan
Robinson, Randall W.
Guay, Patrick-Jean
Journal name Frontiers in ecology and evolution
Volume number 4
Season Article number: 117
Start page 1
End page 9
Total pages 9
Publisher Frontiers Research Foundation
Place of publication Lausanne, Switzerland
Publication date 2016-10-04
ISSN 2296-701X
Keyword(s) brain size
flight initiation distance
habituation
optic lobe
phylogenetic generalized least squares regression
urbanization
Summary The examination of links between a high degree of encephalisation (i.e., a large brain mass relative to body size) and the capacity of wildlife to inhabit anthropogenic habitats has formed the basis of several recent studies, although typically they have not uncovered any relationship. It, however, remains unclear whether encephalisation is directly related to a species' capacity to develop tolerance to human proximity (i.e., a reduction in response to approaching humans). It is also unknown whether such a relationship is related to the size of specific areas of the brain. Using published data on flight-initiation distance (FID), the distance at which animals flee from an approaching human, we estimate the degree of tolerance of human proximity for 42 bird species by comparing FIDs in urban and rural areas, with relatively high and low exposure to humans, respectively. We used a phylogenetic, comparative approach to analyse the relationship of degree of tolerance, and of FID in urban and rural populations more directly, to relative sizes of whole brains (42 species) and brain components (25 species) for the species, and examine the effect of the year that the bird species was first recorded in an urban area (year of urbanization). We demonstrate an interaction between bird habitat and year of urbanization on FIDs. Urban populations of species that have a longer history of inhabiting urban areas have lower FIDs (i.e., birds that were urbanized earlier are more tolerant), which may suggest local selection for birds with reduced responsiveness to humans in urban areas. The pattern is not seen in rural populations of the same species, providing additional evidence that it is greater exposure to humans that has resulted in this tolerance. While we found that forebrain mass and optic lobe mass are influential positive predictors of FID there was no indication that degree of tolerance itself was related to any brain size metric and hence no support for the idea that urban populations of species with larger brains are better able to habituate to human presence. This suggests that processes other than encephalisation explain the high degree of tolerance evident in urban-dwelling birds.
Notes This article is part of the Research Topic: "Behavioural and Ecological Consequences of Urban Life in Birds".
Language eng
DOI 10.3389/fevo.2016.00117
Field of Research 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective 960812 Urban and Industrial Flora
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30086233

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.