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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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Use of commercial bumble bees as pollinators in the strawberry “Fortuna” crops does not enhance crop yield

Use of commercial bumble bees as pollinators in the strawberry "Fortuna" crops does not enhance crop yield

Animal-mediated pollination is essential for the production and quality of fruits and seeds of many crops consumed by humans. However, crop pollination services might be compromised when wild pollinators are scarce. Managed pollinators are commonly used in crops to supplement such services with the assumption that they will enhance crop yield. However, information on the spatiotemporal pollinator-dependence of crops is still limited. The contribution of commercial bumble bee colonies compared to the available pollinator community on strawberry (‘Fortuna' variety) flower visitation and strawberry quality across a landscape gradient of agricultural intensification (i.e. polytunnel berry crop cover) was assessed. Colonies of bumble bees were used in winter and in spring, i.e. when few and most wild pollinators are in their flight period, respectively. The placement of colonies increased visits of bumble bees to strawberry flowers, especially in winter. The use of bumble bee colonies did not affect flower visitation by other insects, mainly honey bees, hoverflies and other Diptera. Flower visitation by both honey bees and wild insects did not vary between seasons and was unrelated to the landscape gradient of berry crop cover. Strawberries were of the highest quality (i.e. weight) when insect-mediated pollination was allowed, and their quality was positively related to wild flower visitors in winter but not in spring. However, increased visits to strawberry flowers by managed bumble bees and honey bees had no effect on strawberry weight. These results suggest that the pollination services producing high quality strawberry fruits are provided by the flower visitor community present in the study region without the need to use managed bumble bees. informacion[at] Trillo et al (2018) Managed bumble bees increase flower visitation but not fruit weight in polytunnel strawberry crops. Basic Appl Ecol. Doi 10.1016/j.baae.2018.05.008