Until now, arguments and debate about the ecological impacts of dog-walking have remained subjective and unresolved because experimental evidence has been lacking.
But the first clear evidence that birds perceive dogs as predators and avoid dog-walking areas is published today in Biology Letters, reporting research by UNSW biologist Peter Banks.
“We found in field studies that dog-walking in bushland causes a 35 percent reduction in bird diversity – the number of species – and a 41 percent reduction in abundance – the number of individual birds in an area,” says Dr Banks.
“The effect occurs even in areas where dog-walking is common and where they are prohibited, indicating that birds don’t become accustomed to continued disturbance by dogs.
“This evidence clearly supports the long term prohibition of dog-walking from sensitive conservation areas,” Banks says.
The revelation has immediate implications for popular recreation activities such as bird-watching and eco-tourism, where visitor satisfaction has a strong relationship to the number of species seen.
The experiment was conducted at 90 sites in the Hornsby-Berowra-Cowan regions, 35kms north of Sydney, Australia. The area was chosen because it contains remnants of bushland with trails that are either frequently dog-walked or where dog-walking is prohibited.
The experiment used three conditions to study dogs’ impact on birds: (1) a person walking a dog on a lead on a trail; (2) a person walking alone on a trail; (3) a control condition with no dog walking or humans.
Observers monitored all native birds seen or heard within 50 metres of a 250-metre trail. Monitoring commenced 20 seconds after the walker/dog-walker had set off and continued for 10 minutes.
Ground-dwellings birds appeared most affected: 50 percent of bird species observed in control sites were absent in dog-walked sites. The effect of dog-walking was most pronounced in the area immediately adjacent to the site where dogs were walked, according to Dr Banks.
“There were 76 fewer birds within 10 metres of the trail when dog-walking occurred compared to control sites, suggesting birds were seeking refuge away from the immediate vicinity of threat."
The particular sensitivity of ground-dwelling birds to dog-walking was of concern because it could lead to a “cascade” of behavioural changes that could further threaten these species, Dr Banks says.
Dog-walking was also likely to affect the accuracy of wildlife surveys that are used to map bird distributions around the world.
Dr. Peter Banks | EurekAlert!
Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta
Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy