Shane C. McPherson
Other affiliations: Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Vienna
Bio: Shane C. McPherson is an academic researcher from University of KwaZulu-Natal. The author has contributed to research in topics: Stephanoaetus coronatus & Eagle. The author has an hindex of 6, co-authored 12 publications receiving 111 citations. Previous affiliations of Shane C. McPherson include Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology & University of Vienna.
TL;DR: Time-lapse cameras were positioned at urban nest sites to identify the prey composition during breeding, particularly in regards to taxa with human associations, and it was found that domestic stock comprised 6 % of the identifiable prey.
Abstract: The study of diet is pivotal in understanding a species, particularly for quantifying a predatory raptors’ economic niche and potential for human-wildlife conflict The crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) is one of Africa’s apex predators and a population is present within the urban greenspace mosaic of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa In close association with urban development, the local population of crowned eagles has the potential to be a concern to the safety of domestic stock and pets Time-lapse cameras were positioned at urban nest sites (n = 11) to identify the prey composition during breeding, particularly in regards to taxa with human associations The numerical proportion of avian prey, particularly hadeda ibis (Bostricia hagedash) pulli, was several times greater than any previous diet description The methodology used and the abundance of hadeda ibis in these urban environments are potential contributing factors Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) was the primary prey and where hyrax were unavailable, the diet composition was broader and included more vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) It was found that domestic stock comprised 6 % of the identifiable prey Contrary to popular belief, no dogs (Canis familiaris) and few cats (Felis domesticus) were delivered to the nest by breeding eagles in this study The negative consequences of small proportions of pet losses should be considered against the majority of wildlife prey consumed, which also have various wildlife conflict interactions Juvenile and sub-adult eagles are most frequently identified at in situ attacks of pets, particularly toy dog breeds Further research on juvenile dispersal and winter diet will provide insights on the ecological impacts of eagle management strategies in the region
TL;DR: This article investigated nest site selection of crowned eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) on various spatial scales within this urban mosaic and found that nesting sites were not evenly distributed through the landscape and were closely associated with natural forest, while nest trees were most frequently in patches of exotic large riverine Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna) within the D’MOSS planning zones.
Abstract: Globally, dramatic land use change typical of urbanisation negatively affects biodiversity, especially for top predators. The Durban Metropolitan Open Space System (D’MOSS), South Africa, faces the challenge of conserving biodiversity in a regional hotspot in the face of rapid urban growth in one of Africa's major commercial hubs. Consequently, we investigated nest site selection of crowned eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) on various spatial scales within this urban mosaic. Unexpectedly the inter-nest distances were small in this human-dominated landscape. However, breeding sites were not evenly distributed through the landscape and were closely associated with natural forest, while nest trees were most frequently in patches of exotic large riverine Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna, Smith 1797) within the D’MOSS planning zones. Crowned eagles showed a strong tendency to avoid informal settlement areas; however they were tolerant of proximity to established formal settlements and occupied dwellings. Consequently, continued protection of the D’MOSS system, and a considered approach to management of E. saligna are necessary for the persistence of the crowned eagle in this landscape. Future research should focus on food requirements, post-fledging survival, and recruitment to determine which nest sites are most productive and whether this population is acting as a source or a sink.
TL;DR: In Africa, increasing human populations and anthropogenic land-use change are generally affecting diversity negatively as mentioned in this paper, but especially in Africa, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, a large number of people are migrating to the region.
Abstract: Globally, but especially in Africa, increasing human populations and anthropogenic land-use change are generally affecting diversity negatively. Urban environments in southern Africa typically comp...
TL;DR: This paper reviewed case studies of vertebrate species' responses to urbanisation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to determine trends and presented a novel modification to the final of three phases of the framework described by Evans et al. (2010).
Abstract: Urbanisation is rapidly transforming natural landscapes with consequences for biodiversity. Little is documented on the response of African wildlife to urbanisation. We reviewed case studies of vertebrate species' responses to urbanisation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to determine trends. Connected habitat mosaics of natural and anthropogenic green spaces are critical for urban wildlife persistence. We present a novel modification to the final of three phases of the framework described by Evans et al. (2010), which documents this sequence for vertebrate species persistence, based on the perspective of our research. Species in suburbia exhibit an initial phase where behavioural and ecological flexibility, life-history traits and phenotypic plasticity either contribute to their success, or they stay at low numbers. Where successful, the next phase is a rapid increase in populations and distribution; anthropogenic food resources and alternate breeding sites are effectively exploited. The modified third phase either continues to spread, plateau or decline.
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors used GPS-UHF telemetry to investigate the home range and habitat use of five breeding adult Crowned Eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) for one year.
Abstract: Apex predators are sensitive to human disturbance and persecution, often becoming the first losses in a declining urban wildlife community. A population of Crowned Eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) within eThekwini municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, persists in a green space network called the Durban Metropolitan Open Space System (DMOSS). We used GPS–UHF telemetry to investigate the home range and habitat use of five breeding adult Crowned Eagles for 1 yr. We documented a mean annual home range for four birds of 13 km2 (Minimum Convex Polygon [MCP] 100%), or 6.3 km2 (Kernel Density Estimator [KDE], bandwith HLSCV 95%), equating to small home ranges for this large eagle, compared with other large eagles. Habitat use within home ranges and correlation with DMOSS area underscored the importance of retaining forest patches in the urban mosaic landscape to encourage the persistence of this large raptor. Our study highlighted the importance of planning green space in future city expansion and land development. The spatial and habitat associations of Crowned Eagles may be used to inform urban planners who wish to support biodiverse communities that include apex predators in an urban landscape.
01 Jan 1985
TL;DR: This volume, 20 years in the making, was primarily intended as a field guide and starts with a comprehensive listing of the 313 worldwide raptor species, grouped by order and family, listed with common and scientific name and cross-referenced to information detailing biology, ecology and associated colour plates.
Abstract: This volume, 20 years in the making, was primarily intended as a field guide and starts with a comprehensive listing of the 313 worldwide raptor species, grouped by order and family, listed with common and scientific name and cross-referenced to information detailing biology, ecology and associated colour plates. The proportionally larger number of species within the Accipitridae, Herpetotheridae and Falconidae are further subdivided by commonly applied artificial groupings (e.g. bazas, honey-buzzards, atypical kites; fish-eagles and fishing eagles) to aid in finding species quickly and easily.
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors identify three major research areas: (i) nest sites of birds in urban areas, (ii) the composition of their nests, and (iii) how these aspects of their nesting biology influence their persistence (and therefore conservation efforts).
Abstract: The world is urbanising rapidly, and it is predicted that by 2050, 66% of the global human population will be living in urban areas. Urbanisation is characterised by land-use changes such as increased residential housing, business development and transport infrastructure, resulting in habitat loss and fragmentation. Over the past two decades, interest has grown in how urbanisation influences fundamental aspects of avian biology such as life-history strategies, survival, breeding performance, behaviour and individual health. Here, we review current knowledge on how urbanisation influences the nesting biology of birds, which determines important fitness-associated processes such as nest predation and community assembly. We identify three major research areas: (i) nest sites of birds in urban areas, (ii) the composition of their nests, and (iii) how these aspects of their nesting biology influence their persistence (and therefore conservation efforts) in urban areas. We show that birds inhabiting urban areas nest in a wide variety of locations, some beneficial through exploitation of otherwise relatively empty avian ecological niches, but others detrimental when birds breed in ecological traps. We describe urban-associated changes in nesting materials such as plastic and cigarette butts, and discuss several functional hypotheses that propose the adaptive value and potential costs of this new nesting strategy. Urban areas provide a relatively new habitat in which to conserve birds, and we show that nestboxes and other artificial nest sites can be used successfully to conserve some, but not all, bird species. Finally, we identify those subject areas that warrant further research attention in the hope of advancing our understanding of the nesting biology of birds in urban areas.
TL;DR: It is suggested that for urban-dwelling, bird-eating raptors the abundance of prey in cities may override any potential negative impacts of urbanization on health due to disturbance or other sources of stress.
Abstract: As the global trend towards urbanization continues, the need to understand its impact on wildlife grows. Species may have different levels of tolerance to urban disturbance; some even appear to thrive in urban areas and use human-subsidized resources. However, the physiological costs and trade-offs faced by urban-dwelling species are still poorly understood. We assess the evidence for a negative impact of urbanization on the Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus, a raptor that recently colonized Cape Town, South Africa, and explore the potential mechanisms behind any such effect. We predicted that birds in more urbanized areas may be in poorer health and that this may be partially driven by differences in prey quantity and quality along an urban habitat gradient. The health of Black Sparrowhawk nestlings was evaluated through measures of their physiological stress (heterophil/lymphocyte ratio), body condition and blood parasite infection (infection risk and intensity of Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon). Diet composition was determined through an analysis of prey remains collected around nests, and prey abundance was determined through point counts in different habitat types. We could find no negative effects of urbanization on nestling health, with no significant relationships with heterophil/lymphocyte ratio, body condition, risk and intensity of infection by Haemoproteus or intensity of infection by Leucocytozoon. Risk of infection by Leucocytozoon did, however, decline with increasing urban cover, perhaps because urbanized areas contain less habitat for blackflies, the vectors of this parasite, which require moving fresh water. We found no change in diet breadth or composition with increasing urban cover. Although some prey species were abundant or less abundant in certain habitat types, all habitat types contained ample prey for Black Sparrowhawks. The widespread abundance of food resources and resulting lack of nutritional stress may explain why Black Sparrowhawks are seemingly free of the negative health impacts expected to arise from urbanization. These findings may explain the success of the species in Cape Town and suggest that for urban-dwelling, bird-eating raptors the abundance of prey in cities may override any potential negative impacts of urbanization on health due to disturbance or other sources of stress.
01 Jan 2020
TL;DR: In this article, the authors reviewed the current knowledge of patterns, processes, impacts and management of invasions in South African urban ecosystems, and identified priorities for research, and key challenges for management.
Abstract: As in other parts of the world, urban ecosystems in South Africa have large numbers of alien species, many of which are invasive. Whereas invasions in South Africa’s natural systems are strongly structured by biotic and abiotic features of the region’s biomes, the imprint of these features is much less marked in urban ecosystems that exist as islands of human-dominated and highly modified habitat. Surprisingly little work has been done to document how invasive species spread in South African urban ecosystems, affect biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being, or to document the human perceptions of alien and invasive species, and the challenges associated with managing invasions in cities. This chapter reviews the current knowledge of patterns, processes, impacts and management of invasions in South African urban ecosystems. It highlights unique aspects of invasion dynamics in South African urban ecosystems, and identifies priorities for research, and key challenges for management. South African towns and cities share invasive species from all taxonomic groups with many cities around the world, showing that general features common to urban environments are key drivers of these invasions. There are, however, several unique biological invasions in some South African urban settings. The pattern of urbanisation in South Africa is also unique in that the imprint of Apartheid-era spatial planning is striking in almost all towns and cities and is aligned with stark disparities in wealth. This has resulted in a unique relationship between humans and the physical environment (e.g. very different assemblages of alien species in affluent compared to low-income areas). New ways of approaching invasive alien species management are emerging in South African towns and cities, but better facilitating mechanisms and protocols are needed for dealing with conflicts of interest.