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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
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Intact but empty forests? Patterns of hunting induced mammal defaunation in the tropics

Intact but empty forests? Patterns of hunting induced mammal defaunation in the tropics

Tropical forests are increasingly degraded by industrial logging, urbanization, agriculture, and infrastructure, with only 20% of the remaining area considered intact. However, this figure does not include other, more cryptic but pervasive forms of degradation, such as overhunting. Here, the spatial patterns of mammal defaunation in the tropics are quantified and mapped using a database of 3,281 mammal abundance declines from local hunting studies. Simultaneously population abundance declines and the probability of local extirpation of a population were accounted for as a function of several predictors related to human accessibility to remote areas and species' vulnerability to hunting. An average abundance decline of 13% across all tropical mammal species was estimated, with medium-sized species being reduced by >27% and large mammals by >40%. Mammal populations are predicted to be partially defaunated (i.e., declines of 10%–100%) in ca. 50% of the pantropical forest area (14 million km2), with large declines (>70%) in West Africa. According to these projections, 52% of the intact forests (IFs) and 62% of the  wilderness areas (WAs) are partially devoid of large mammals, and hunting may affect mammal populations in 20% of protected areas (PAs) in the tropics, particularly in West and Central Africa and Southeast Asia. The pervasive effects of overhunting on tropical mammal populations may have profound ramifications for ecosystem functioning and the livelihoods of wild-meat-dependent communities, and underscore that forest coverage alone is not necessarily indicative of ecosystem intactness. The authors call for a systematic consideration of hunting effects in (large-scale) biodiversity assessments for more representative estimates of human-induced biodiversity loss. informacion[at] Benítez-Lopez et al (2019) Intact but empty forests? Patterns of hunting-induced mammal defaunation in the tropics. PLoS Biol