Translator Disclaimer
24 December 2014 Synergistic effects of spring temperatures and land cover on nest survival of urban birds
Miles E. Becker, Peter J. Weisberg
Author Affiliations +

Climate change has the potential to influence avian population dynamics through nest-fate sensitivity to temperatures during the breeding season. Nest fate also varies across spatially heterogeneous habitat, and changing land uses may independently introduce stressors on reproductive outcome. Identifying the individual and synergistic effects of climate change and land-use change is necessary for understanding the impact of global change on native species. We studied the nest fate of 3 sympatric species breeding in urban habitat in an arid region of the western United States. We monitored nests (n = 371) of American Robin (Turdus migratorius), Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura), and Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) over 4 yr on an urban-to-rural gradient and analyzed nest fate in relation to temperatures at the time of egg laying and after eggs hatched. Habitat measurements included nest height and the amounts of canopy cover and impervious surfaces at 3 spatial scales of 20-m, 100-m, and 500-m radii from the nest. Our data most strongly supported models that included temperature deviation after hatching, nest stage, fine-scale canopy cover, and pedestrian traffic. Nest survival increased at slight temperature increases during the nestling stage, which suggests that in a climate-change context, moderate warming in spring temperatures may be beneficial for some breeding birds. Nests were more likely to survive at locations with more canopy cover in a 20-m radius and at sites with more pedestrian traffic, which suggests that increasing cover of native riparian tree canopy at fine scales may enhance habitat quality in multiuse urban reserves. Our results demonstrate that effects of climate change on avian populations must be considered synergistically with land-use and land-cover characteristics of the urban landscape, including tree canopy cover and level of human disturbance.

Miles E. Becker and Peter J. Weisberg "Synergistic effects of spring temperatures and land cover on nest survival of urban birds," The Condor 117(1), 18-30, (24 December 2014).
Received: 1 January 2014; Accepted: 1 October 2014; Published: 24 December 2014

American Robin
Black-headed Grosbeak
mourning dove
nest survival
population dynamics
temperature variation
urban ecology
Get copyright permission
Back to Top