Does Seasonal Decline in Breeding Performance Differ for an African Raptor across an Urbanization Gradient?

Sanjo Rose, Petra Sumasgutner, Ann Koeslag, Arjun Amar
2017 Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution  
As human populations have increased globally, so too has the transformation of natural landscapes into more urban areas. Within Africa, population growth rates and urbanization rates are amongst the highest in the world, but the impacts of these processes on Africa's wildlife are largely un-explored. In this study, we focus on a recently established population of black sparrowhawks Accipiter melanoleucus in Cape Town, South Africa. Using long-term data (16 years), we investigate the
more » ... between the timing of breeding and breeding performance along an urban-rural habitat gradient. We found no evidence for a direct effect of urbanization on either timing of breeding or breeding performance. However, we did find some evidence for a differential seasonal decline in breeding performance dependent on the levels of urbanization. Thus, higher productivity was found in more urbanized habitats earlier in the season, but towards the end of the breeding season, birds in less urbanized habitats performed better. Our study represents one of the first to examine avian productivity in relation to urbanization in Africa, and also represents one of the first studies to suggest that seasonal declines in productivity may differ according to levels of urbanization. These results have considerable implications for potential changes in phenology or productivity for the regions' avifauna as African urbanization continues.
doi:10.3389/fevo.2017.00047 fatcat:zrc3f7sqzzdenid2nixvndqsva