Effect of Urbanization on Parental Care in House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon)

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2012-06

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The Ohio State University

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Abstract

Anthropogenic degradation of habitat may limit reproduction and survival of wild organisms. However, some species thrive in urbanized areas. House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) are migratory passerines that live in a variety of habitats. We hypothesized that the wrens would be more successful in undisturbed habitats when compared to habitats that have been significantly altered by human actions. We used parental visitation rates to the nest box as a measure of reproductive effort because the quality of parental care may determine offspring survival to adulthood. We monitored 123 nest boxes distributed among a forested habitat, a golf course, and a residential area. We checked all of the boxes twice weekly for signs of nesting and daily when egg laying and hatching was expected. On days 4 and 10 after hatching, we observed how frequently the adults visited the box for 30 minutes. We found no difference in visitation rate or reproductive success among habitats. However, despite having similar numbers of nest boxes in each habitat, wrens occupied more boxes at the golf course than the other two areas. Our data suggest that House Wrens may benefit from moderate levels of habitat disturbance.

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house wren, urbanization, parental care, troglodytes aedon, habitat, reproductive success

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