Surviving in sprawling suburbs

adamA new paper, arising from Adam Cardilini’s honours work, has just been published in Landscape and Urban Planning. The paper explores how a common species of wader, the Masked Lapwing, survives in suburban environments. The motivation for the paper was a belief that, although the species occurs in suburban environments, it might do so at a cost. This is because suburban environments have many potential threats for ground nesting birds like the Lapwing (e.g. a high abundance of domestic pets, greater disturbance by people, traffic etc.). Therefore, we predicted that suburban environments would be lower quality habitat compared to agricultural regions where the species is also common.

Of course, we found the opposite. Compared to birds in agricultural regions, breeding pairs in suburban environments had greater reproductive success, showed greater investment in parental care, laid longer eggs, and females were in better condition! We put this down to an increase in food resources (e.g. earthworms) in suburban lawns, a higher than expected crushing rate of eggs by stock, and a better capacity to protect eggs from threats in suburban environments.
Feel free to email Adam for a reprint (apcar@deakin.edu.au)

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