News News

A timeline for the urbanization of wild birds: The case of the lesser kestrel

The Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) evolved as a separate species in the Old-World kestrel radiation starting in the late Miocene. Given that the first cities were erected in the Holocene, this urban colonial raptor has only become a major town dweller recently in its evolutionary history. Today, more than 95% of lesser kestrel colonies in Spain and other Mediterranean countries are on buildings, and the remaining few are on rocky outcrops, that may have been the original nesting substrate for this cavity-nesting bird. Lesser kestrel fossils are well represented in cave sites, and their paleontological distribution, spanning from the Early Paleolithic to the Epipaleolithic, agrees well with its current breeding distribution. According to classical sources, such as the works of Columella and Pliny the Elder, and the presence of a skeletal remain in a Roman villa near Madrid, lesser kestrels may have nested in buildings and in urban settings for at least 2000e2500 years. However, there are no surviving colonies in structures older than 1400 years in Andalusia, nor in Spain. For a sample of 349 colonies on ancient buildings, a majority of the structures had been erected between the 15th and 17th centuries, this putting a time limit of about 300-600 years to the existence of those seemingly immemorial colonies. For specific towns and buildings, written references for the presence of lesser kestrel colonies do not go back more than two centuries. In fact, the Cathedral of Sevilla may be the structure with the longest continuous occupation by lesser kestrels recorded up to present time, from 1834 to 2020. Lesser kestrels were possibly too common in human settlements in the past as to be noted as special. This may explain the scarcity of references to the species until the 19th century. In any case, the same lack of information affects the other major Eurasian urban birds, as no timeline exist for the urbanization process of any other bird species. Here authors propose that lesser kestrels became urban breeders when both adequate cavities in buildings and cereal fields, where they capture their invertebrate prey, became available in their breeding range, several millennia ago. However, urban colonies, in contrast with the ones on stable geological substrates, have been forced to move from building to building when older ones became ruinous or were rebuilt, but new structures with suitable cavities became available throughout History. informacion[at] Negro et al (2020) A timeline for the urbanization of wild birds: The case of the lesser kestrel. Quaternary Sci Rev
Average (0 Votes)

Latest News Latest News


What is long-distance dispersal?

What is long-distance dispersal?

Dispersal is a key individual-based process influencing many life-history attributes and scaling up to population-level properties (e.g. metapopulation connectivity). A persistent challenge in dispersal ecology has been the robust characterization of dispersal functions (kernels), a fundamental tool to predict how dispersal processes respond under global change scenarios. Particularly, the rightmost tail of these functions, that is the long-distance dispersal (LDD) events, are difficult to characterize empirically and to model in realistic ways. But, when is it a LDD event? In the specific case of plants, dispersal has three basic components: a distinct source, the maternal plant producing the fruits or the paternal tree acting as a source of pollen; a distance component between source and target locations; and finally a vector actually performing the movement entailing the dispersal event. Strict-sense long-distance dispersal involves movement both outside the stand geographic limits and outside the genetic neighbourhood area of individuals. Combinations of propagule movements within/outside these two spatial reference frames result in four distinct modes of LDD. Truncation of seed dispersal kernels are expected to have multiple consequences on demography and genetics, following to the loss of key dispersal services in natural populations. Loss of LDD events may result in more structured and less cohesive genetic pools, with increased isolation by distance extending over broader areas. Proper characterization of the LDD events helps to assess, for example, how the ongoing defaunation of large-bodied frugivores pervasively entails the loss of crucial LDD functions. informacion[at] Jordano (2017) What is long-distance dispersal? And a taxonomy of dispersal events. J Ecology 105,75–84 Doi 10.1111/1365-2745.12690