The results are important because, with the expansion of cities worldwide, migrating landbirds increasingly must pass through vast urban areas which offer very little of the forest habitats on which many species rely.
“The good news is that the birds in our study seemed to be finding enough food in even the smaller urban habitats to refuel and continue their journey,” said Stephen Matthews, co-author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University.
Matthews conducted the study with Paul Rodewald, an assistant professor of environment and natural resources at Ohio State.
The researchers published two related studies: one will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Landscape Ecology and the other appeared in a recent issue of The Condor.
Both studies involved a secretive relative of the American Robin called Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus). Swainson’s Thrushes winters mainly in Central and South America, and travel through the eastern United States to their breeding grounds in the boreal forests of Canada.
The researchers captured up to 91 Swainson’s Thrushes at a woodlot on the Ohio State campus while they were migrating through Columbus in May or early June, 2004 to 2007. They then fitted them with tiny radio transmitters and released them at one of seven wooded sites in the Columbus area. (The radio transmitters were glued to back feathers and naturally fell off within a few weeks.)
The sites had forest sizes that ranged from less than one hectare (1.7 acres) to about 38 hectares (93.9 acres) in size.
Using the radio transmitters, the researchers tracked how long the thrushes would stay in the woodlots where they were placed. If they left soon after release, that would suggest that the sites did not provide the food and habitat that they required.
Results showed that at the five largest release sites, all the birds stayed until they left to continue to their migration north. At the two smallest sites (0.7 and 4.5 hectares), 28 percent of the birds moved to other sites in the Columbus region.“The fact that a majority of the birds stayed at even our smallest sites suggests that the Swainson’s Thrushes were somewhat flexible in habitat needs and were able to meet their stopover requirements within urban forest patches,” Rodewald said.
“If our study sites differed strongly in habitat quality, we should have seen differences in how long the birds stayed,” Matthews said. “The fact that the stopover duration was similar suggests that all the sites were meeting the needs of the thrushes as they prepared for the next leg of migration.”
The study did find that the later the calendar date, the shorter the thrushes stayed at the sites. That may be because the later-arriving birds would be in more of a rush to reach their breeding grounds, Matthews said.
Weather was also a factor: birds tended to leave the sites when winds were light, following a drop in barometric pressure.
Birds also tended to stay longer if they had lower body mass, suggesting they needed to bulk up more to continue their journey.
While nearly all sizes of woods appeared adequate for the thrushes, they still seemed to prefer larger forested areas, the study revealed.
In one of the studies, the researchers found that in the larger urban woodlots, the thrushes would stay farther in the interior and not get as close to the forest edge. The birds also moved less during a three-day period in the smaller sites, indicating they were more restricted in the area where they could forage for food.
The researchers cautioned that this study was done with just one species, so it is impossible to say whether the results will apply to other species. But the Swainson’s Thrush is one of the more forest-sensitive species, so the fact that it could make do with even small, fragmented woodlots is encouraging.
“These findings suggest that remnant forests within urban areas have conservation value for Swainson’s Thrushes and, potentially, other migrant landbirds,” Rodewald said.
“Obviously, larger forest patches are better, but even smaller ones are worth saving.”
The study was funded by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.Contact: Stephen Matthews, (614) 247-1889; Matthews.email@example.com
Stephen Matthews | EurekAlert!
Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy