Are human behaviors affecting bird communities in residential areas?

 These 'area sensitive' species tend to fare better in large, contiguous habitat blocks. In a recent study, they were found to demonstrate a similar negative response to exurban development in the Adirondacks and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, despite the different geographies of the two study regions. Credit: Larry Master

These ‘area sensitive’ species tend to fare better in large, contiguous habitat blocks. In a recent study, they were found to demonstrate a similar negative response to exurban development in the Adirondacks and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, despite the different geographies of the two study regions. Credit: Larry Master

A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society shows that habitat alteration may be less important than other factors- such as human behavior- in driving the effects of “exurban” development on bird communities. These unexpected results are fueling more questions that may ultimately lead to informed landowners lessening their impacts on local wildlife.

Exurban development is generally rural residential development in attractive natural areas characterized by low density and large lot sizes. Through myriad impacts including the fragmentation of habitat, disruption of animal movement patterns, and predation or disturbance from domestic pets, this type of development can result in altered wildlife abundance, species composition and behavior in a surrounding ecosystem. Continue reading

Zebra Finch Songs Impacted by the Environment: Nurture, Not Nature

zebra-finch

What behaviors are learned and what behaviors are genetic? That’s a question that scientists have long sought to tackle. Now, they may have an answer to this question–at least as far as zebra finches are concerned. They’ve found that these birds’ brains and song structures are strongly influenced by the environment rather than just by genetics. Continue reading