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Journal ArticleDOI

Citizen science reveals widespread supplementary feeding of African woolly-necked storks in suburban areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

28 Jun 2018-Urban Ecosystems (Springer US)-Vol. 21, Iss: 5, pp 965-973
TL;DR: In this article, the authors investigated the extent (if any) to which householders in urban and suburban areas of KwaZulu-Natal provide supplementary food to African woolly-necked storks.
Abstract: African woolly-necked storks (Ciconia microscelis) depend on wetland habitats for foraging and nesting in natural environments. Recently, they have started colonising urban environments in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and are now a common sight in suburban areas in particular. There have been some anecdotal reports on supplementary feeding of this species by households in some urban areas where they are common. However, these reports have never been confirmed and therefore the extent of feeding and lack thereof is unknown. Using a questionnaire survey, we therefore investigated the extent (if any) to which householders in urban and suburban areas of KwaZulu-Natal provide supplementary food to African woolly-necked storks. We also determined the feeders’ provisioning habits, and identified the motivation behind and attitudes toward feeding. We found that a significant number of householders fed African woolly-necked storks on a daily basis throughout the year. The majority of respondents provided meat while others provided inappropriate food such as bread. Respondents were most often motivated to feed for personal pleasure. Our results showed that this species is successfully utilising and exploiting anthropogenic food – a novel behaviour. The observations and narratives from respondents strongly suggest that the African woolly-necked stork is present throughout the year, contrary to the perception that this species is migratory during winter. Based on the results obtained in this study, supplementary feeding of African woolly-necked stork by householders is relatively common, widespread and established in suburban areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. However, reported inappropriate feeding may create concerns regarding the health status of African woolly-necked storks in urban population. Therefore, to prevent further detrimental effects and potential human-wildlife conflicts we recommend that suitable feeding guidelines be formulated.
Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
06 Dec 2018-PeerJ
TL;DR: Current evidence suggests that urban areas dampen the natural cycles at several temporal scales, and a dearth of long-term comparisons of bird composition and studies that simultaneously analyze the relationship between resources and bird composition stabilization at the seasonal and interannual scales is reviewed.
Abstract: Background A scarcely studied consequence of urbanization is the effect of temporal stabilization of the environment on bird communities. This alteration is thought to dampen environmental variations between day and night, seasons and years, promoting a temporal persistence of bird composition in urban areas. The aim of this study was to review current evidence of temporal stabilization of biotic and abiotic factors in urban environments and the potential effects of such stabilization on temporal variation of bird species presence at different temporal scales. Methods I selected the literature by searching published articles and book chapters using Scopus and Google scholar. I only included articles that compared the temporal variation of bird composition or resources between different levels of urbanization. Results In general, there is evidence of temporal stabilization of abiotic and biotic factors at the three time scales considered. At the diurnal scale, the main factor considered was artificial light in the context of light pollution. At the seasonal and interannual scales, several case studies found a smaller temporal variation of primary productivity in urban than in natural and rural areas. Bird species composition showed more stabilization in urban environments at the three temporal scales: (1) several case studies reported bird activity at night, associated with artificial light; (2) studies in urban parks and along urbanization gradients showed smaller seasonal variation of bird composition in the more urbanized areas; and (3) in general, case studies along urbanization gradients showed smaller interannual variation of bird composition in the more urbanized areas, although some studies showed no relationships or opposite trends than expected. Discussion The published evidence suggests that urban areas dampen the natural cycles at several temporal scales. The stabilization of biotic and abiotic factors, such as light, temperature, food and habitat structure, is desynchronized from natural diurnal, seasonal and interannual cycles. However, there is a dearth of long-term comparisons of bird composition and studies that simultaneously analyze the relationship between resources and bird composition stabilization at the seasonal and interannual scales. More research is needed in the Southern hemisphere, where there is a lack of studies dealing with the seasonal and interannual variations of primary productivity along urbanization gradients and nocturnal activity of bird species. A future research agenda should include differentiation of spatial and temporal homogenization of avifaunas.

39 citations


Cites background from "Citizen science reveals widespread ..."

  • ...For instance, the African woolly-necked stork (Ciconia microscelis) were provided supplementary food by humans year-round in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), and humans were motivated by pleasure (Thabethe & Downs, 2018)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is demonstrated that species inhabiting dynamic systems can exploit urban areas resulting in increased reproductive performance during suboptimal conditions, and mechanistic understanding of how a wetland species persists, and even thrives, in urban environments is provided.
Abstract: There is a strong conservation need to understand traits of species that adapt to urban environments, but results have been equivocal. Wetland birds exhibit a strong phylogenetic signal towards urban tolerance; however, they have largely been ignored in urban studies. In their historic ranges, wetland birds inhabit dynamic systems, traveling long distances to locate food. This ability to exploit dynamic resources may translate to success in urban environments, areas characterized by novel food opportunities. We used the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), a species of conservation concern, to determine if the ability to exploit resources in natural environments translated to exploitation of urban resources. During optimal natural foraging conditions, storks nesting in both urban and natural wetlands had narrow diet breadths and high productivity. However, during suboptimal conditions, urban stork diet expanded to include anthropogenic items, leading to increased productivity. Our study provides a mechanistic understanding of how a wetland species persists, and even thrives, in urban environments. We demonstrated that species inhabiting dynamic systems can exploit urban areas resulting in increased reproductive performance during suboptimal conditions. Together, urban environments may support biodiversity in a variety of ways, but species-specific mechanistic understanding will help highlight how to best mitigate potential threats of urbanization.

17 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
30 Apr 2021-Ostrich
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...

14 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
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.

12 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper investigated how availability of semi-natural occurring food affected behavioural foraging patterns of urban vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), a generalist primate commonly found in urban areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Abstract: Generalist wildlife species often thrive in urban environments because of increased anthropogenic resources. However, human-wildlife interactions, especially if negative, raise concerns for urban wildlife management. An enhanced understanding of wildlife behavioural flexibility has been suggested to be a key tool to provide educated and effective management strategies. We therefore investigated how availability of semi-naturally occurring food affected behavioural foraging patterns of urban vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), a generalist primate commonly found in urban areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Over one year, we conducted 20 min. focal animal observations recording foraging behaviour and food consumption. We used a combination of a generalised linear model and descriptive statistics to examine the relationship between anthropogenic food consumption and semi-natural food availability. Our analyses showed that anthropogenic food consumption decreased as semi-natural food availability increased. We also showed that increased aggression from humans towards vervet monkeys decreased time spent foraging on anthropogenic food. Our study highlights how vervet monkeys have adapted to their urban landscape, showing foraging flexibility in response to available food resources and the frequency of human interactions. We suggest how our results can be applied for management recommendations, particularly controlling anthropogenic food availability and decreasing negative human-wildlife interactions.

11 citations


Cites background from "Citizen science reveals widespread ..."

  • ...Various studies have highlighted that anthropogenic food is a key driver behind the nature of human-wildlife cohabitation e.g. large spotted genets, Genetta tigrina (Widdows and Downs 2015) and woolly-necked storks, Ciconia microscelis (Thabethe and Downs 2018)....

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References
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is argued that bird feeding provides an important, if challenging, opportunity for fundamental research in urban ecology, and is seen as a supplementary feeding experiment on a massive scale.
Abstract: Wild bird feeding is one of the most common forms of human-wildlife interactions in the Western world. Originally a practice providing nutritional assistance to over-wintering birds, especially in more northern latitudes, birds throughout the cities of the world are now provided with considerable amounts and a variety of foods year-round. Despite the global nature of the practice, remarkably little is known about the outcomes and implications of what may be seen as a supplementary feeding experiment on a massive scale. Although many claims are made about the benefits of feeding, there are growing concerns about the spread of disease, poor nutrition, risk of dependency and many other important issues. Constructive debate among increasingly vigorous proponents and opponents is currently constrained by a lack of reliable information. Here we argue that bird feeding provides an important, if challenging, opportunity for fundamental research in urban ecology.

207 citations


"Citizen science reveals widespread ..." refers background in this paper

  • ...…food by households for wild animals, especially birds, (hereafter referred to as supplementary feeding in this study) is a widespread practise throughout the globe particularly in the Western world (Jones and Reynolds 2008; Orros and Fellowes 2015; Hanmer et al. 2016; Reynolds et al. 2017)....

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  • ...This practise originally started as a humane response to the plight of malnourished birds during severe winters in the northern hemisphere but has since been adapted globally and it is now generally practised year-round (Jones and Reynolds 2008; Cox and Gaston 2016)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This study directly demonstrates that the human pastime of bird feeding substantially contributes to the structure of avian community in urban areas, potentially altering the balance between native and introduced species.
Abstract: Food availability is a primary driver of avian population regulation. However, few studies have considered the effects of what is essentially a massive supplementary feeding experiment: the practice of wild bird feeding. Bird feeding has been posited as an important factor influencing the structure of bird communities, especially in urban areas, although experimental evidence to support this is almost entirely lacking. We carried out an 18-mo experimental feeding study at 23 residential properties to investigate the effects of bird feeding on local urban avian assemblages. Our feeding regime was based on predominant urban feeding practices in our region. We used monthly bird surveys to compare avian community composition, species richness, and the densities of local species at feeding and nonfeeding properties. Avian community structure diverged at feeding properties and five of the commonest garden bird species were affected by the experimental feeding regime. Introduced birds particularly benefitted, with dramatic increases observed in the abundances of house sparrow (Passer domesticus) and spotted dove (Streptopelia chinensis) in particular. We also found evidence of a negative effect on the abundance of a native insectivore, the grey warbler (Gerygone igata). Almost all of the observed changes did not persist once feeding had ceased. Our study directly demonstrates that the human pastime of bird feeding substantially contributes to the structure of avian community in urban areas, potentially altering the balance between native and introduced species.

158 citations


"Citizen science reveals widespread ..." refers background in this paper

  • ...* Colleen T. Downs downs@ukzn.ac.za Vuyisile Thabethe thabethevuyisile@yahoo.com 1 School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa Galbraith et al. 2015)....

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  • ...Many respondents indicated that it was a privilege to be visited by African woolly-necked storks as it was once a rare species in South Africa....

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  • ...Durban is the largest city in the province while Pietermaritzburg is the second largest (Statistics South Africa 2007)....

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  • ...Recently, there have been some anecdotal reports on direct supplementary feeding by humans of African woolly-necked storks (Ciconia microscelis) in some urban areas of South Africa....

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  • ...These data provided the first evidence that supplementary feeding of this species is common and widespread in urban areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa....

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Book ChapterDOI
01 Jan 2001
TL;DR: This paper investigated the response of American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) to urbanization by comparing rates of winter population change between urban and non-urban locations and quantifying population size along a gradient of urbanization in western Washington.
Abstract: Corvid populations are increasing worldwide in response to urbanization. We investigated the response of American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) to urbanization by (1) comparing rates of winter population change between urban and nonurban locations (using standard Christmas Bird Counts); (2) quantifying population size along a gradient of urbanization in western Washington; and (3) pooling studies from eastern (New York), midwestern (Wisconsin), and western North America (Washington and California) relating survivorship, reproduction, and space use to urbanization. American Crow populations tend to be densest and increasing most rapidly in urban areas of North America. This appears to be facilitated by small space neEDS of crows in urban relative to suburban, rural, and exurban areas. Crow survivorship is high across the urban gradient, but reproduction and hence population growth, peaks in suburban and rural settings. Local demographic considerations appear unable to account for changing winter crow populations. Rather, we hypothesize that urban crow populations may be increasing primarily as surplus crows from suburban and rural areas disperse into the city where anthropogenic food sources are easily located, rich, and concentrated. This hypothesis likely is affected by local crow sociality. In the western United States, where pre-breeders often form flocks able to exploit urban riches, our dispersal hypothesis may be accurate. But, in midwestern and eastern areas, where crows migrate south for winter or remain on territories to help rather than float as pre-breeders, dispersal may not be adequate to fuel urban population growth. Refuse, invertebrates, and small vertebrates appeared to be more common food items than the nest contents of other birds. This, and the typically diverse suite of nest predators in any area, may explain why the rate of predation on artificial nests we placed throughout the urban gradient was not highly correlated with the abundance of crows. We encourage researchers to study how urbanization affects important mechanisms (like nest predators and predation) so environmental policy will benefit from a detailed, scientific understanding of how avian communities are structured.

156 citations


"Citizen science reveals widespread ..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Supplementary feeding has been highlighted as one of the main factors that enables certain vertebrate species, especially avian species, to persist in urban areas (Marzluff et al. 2001)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This study provides first confirmation of year-round nest use by resident white storks and is the first to quantify the extent and consistency of landfill attendance by individuals during the non-breeding and breeding seasons and the influence of landfill use on daily distances travelled, percentage of GPS fixes spent foraging and non-landfill foraging ranges.
Abstract: The migratory patterns of animals are changing in response to global environmental change with many species forming resident populations in areas where they were once migratory. The white stork (Ciconia ciconia) was wholly migratory in Europe but recently guaranteed, year-round food from landfill sites has facilitated the establishment of resident populations in Iberia. In this study 17 resident white storks were fitted with GPS/GSM data loggers (including accelerometer) and tracked for 9.1 ± 3.7 months to quantify the extent and consistency of landfill attendance by individuals during the non-breeding and breeding seasons and to assess the influence of landfill use on daily distances travelled, percentage of GPS fixes spent foraging and non-landfill foraging ranges. Resident white storks used landfill more during non-breeding (20.1 % ± 2.3 of foraging GPS fixes) than during breeding (14.9 % ± 2.2). Landfill attendance declined with increasing distance between nest and landfill in both seasons. During non-breeding a large percentage of GPS fixes occurred on the nest throughout the day (27 % ± 3.0 of fixes) in the majority of tagged storks. This study provides first confirmation of year-round nest use by resident white storks. The percentage of GPS fixes on the nest was not influenced by the distance between nest and the landfill site. Storks travelled up to 48.2 km to visit landfills during non-breeding and a maximum of 28.1 km during breeding, notably further than previous estimates. Storks nesting close to landfill sites used landfill more and had smaller foraging ranges in non-landfill habitat indicating higher reliance on landfill. The majority of non-landfill foraging occurred around the nest and long distance trips were made specifically to visit landfill. The continuous availability of food resources on landfill has facilitated year-round nest use in white storks and is influencing their home ranges and movement behaviour. White storks rely on landfill sites for foraging especially during the non-breeding season when other food resources are scarcer and this artificial food supplementation probably facilitated the establishment of resident populations. The closure of landfills, as required by EU Landfill Directives, will likely cause dramatic impacts on white stork populations.

138 citations


"Citizen science reveals widespread ..." refers background or result in this paper

  • ...This concurs with the Gilbert et al. (2016) study, which showed that the continuous availability of food resources in waste landfill sites has influenced the home ranges and movement behaviour of white storks in the United Kingdom....

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  • ...…areas of Europe and Africa respectively, almost certainly owing to the relative ease access to anthropogenic food, particularly from waste landfill sites (Van den Bossche et al. 2002; Martin et al. 2010; Hilgartner et al. 2014; Djerdali et al. 2016; Gilbert et al. 2016; Pomeroy and Kibuule 2017)....

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  • ...They also frequent waste landfill sites (Thabethe and Downs unpublished data) as do white storks and marabou storks (Van den Bossche et al. 2002; Martin et al. 2010; Hilgartner et al. 2014; Djerdali et al. 2016; Gilbert et al. 2016; Pomeroy andKibuule 2017)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Spanish imperial eagle’s breeding output is food-limited during the nestling period and that food taken to the nest regulates sibling aggression, which leads to the recovery of breeding success after a period of loss due to a reduction of prey as a consequence of viral haemorrhagic disease.

134 citations


"Citizen science reveals widespread ..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Moreover, supplementary feeding is now seen as a necessary means for facilitating wild birds in urbanised areas (González et al. 2006)....

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