A global meta-analysis reveals higher variation in breeding phenology in urban birds than in their non-urban neighbours

Capilla Lasheras, P. , Thompson, M. J., Sánchez-Tójar, A., Haddou, Y., Branston, C. J. , Réale, D., Charmantier, A. and Dominoni, D. M. (2022) A global meta-analysis reveals higher variation in breeding phenology in urban birds than in their non-urban neighbours. Ecology Letters, 25(11), pp. 2552-2570. (doi: 10.1111/ele.14099) (PMID:36136999)

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Cities pose a major ecological challenge for wildlife worldwide. Phenotypic variation, which can result from underlying genetic variation or plasticity, is an important metric to understand eco-evolutionary responses to environmental change. Recent work suggests that urban populations might have higher levels of phenotypic variation than non-urban counterparts. This prediction, however, has never been tested across species nor over a broad geographical range. Here, we conducted a meta-analysis of the avian literature to compare urban versus non-urban means and variation in phenology (i.e. lay date) and reproductive effort (i.e. clutch size, number of fledglings). First, we show that urban populations reproduce earlier and have smaller broods than non-urban conspecifics. Second, we show that urban populations have higher phenotypic variation in laying date than non-urban populations. This result arises from differences between populations within breeding seasons, conceivably due to higher landscape heterogeneity in urban habitats. These findings reveal a novel effect of urbanisation on animal life histories with potential implications for species adaptation to urban environments (which will require further investigation). The higher variation in phenology in birds subjected to urban disturbance could result from plastic responses to a heterogeneous environment, or from higher genetic variation in phenology, possibly linked to higher evolutionary potential.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Haddou, Mr Yacob and Dominoni, Dr Davide and Branston, Dr Claire and Capilla Lasheras, Dr Pablo
Authors: Capilla Lasheras, P., Thompson, M. J., Sánchez-Tójar, A., Haddou, Y., Branston, C. J., Réale, D., Charmantier, A., and Dominoni, D. M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Ecology Letters
ISSN (Online):1461-0248
Published Online:22 September 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Ecology Letters 25(11): 2552-2570
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5281/zenodo.7010687

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
303242Unravelling the impact of artificial light at night on circadian disruption, immunity, and infection riskDavide DominoniNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/S005773/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine