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Some birds better suited to life in the city


A new study by Queen’s University biologists shows that birds living in large urban areas are able to survive in a broader range of climatic conditions than those living in rural areas.

The researchers suggest that environmental tolerance may predispose some birds to thrive in cities.

“These findings provide the first piece of evidence supporting the idea that broadly tolerant birds do better with urbanization in cities all across the globe and across a wide array of bird species,” says Frances Bonier, adjunct professor in Queen’s Department of Biology.

Dr. Bonier and Paul Martin, the Baillie Family Chair in Conservation Biology at Queen’s, are part of the research team, whose study is published on-line today in Biology Letters. John Wingfield from the University of Washington – where the study was conducted – is also part of the team.

The researchers compared data from 217 urban birds found in 73 of the world’s largest cities with 247 rural birds, and found that urban birds around the world tolerate a broader range of environments than their country counterparts.

Characteristics allowing birds to survive in cities are poorly understood, the researchers say. The work, however, provides support for previous studies suggesting that specialized birds will suffer the greatest setbacks with increasing human disturbance around the world.


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