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Rodriguez-Pastor R.,Research Unit | Senar J.C.,Research Unit | Ortega A.,Research Unit | Faus J.,Research Unit | And 2 more authors.
Animal Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2012

Several invasive species have been shown to have a marked preference for urban habitats. The study of the variables responsible for the distribution of these species within urban habitats should allow to predict which environmental variables are indicative of preferred habitat, and to design landscape characteristics that make these areas less conducive to these species. The Monk parakeet Myiopsitta monachus is an invasive species in many American and European countries, and cities are one of its most usual habitats in invaded areas. The aim of this paper was to identify the main factors that determine distribution of the Monk parakeet in Barcelona, one of the cities in the world with the highest parakeet density. We defined our model based on eight preselected variables using a generalized linear model (GLZ) and evaluated the strength of support for each model using the AlC-based multi-model inference approach. We used parakeet density as a dependent variable, and an analysis restricted to occupied neighbourhoods provided a model with two key variables to explain the distribution of the species. Monk parakeets were more abundant in neighbourhoods with a high density of trees and a high percentage of people over 65 years. This is interpreted by the fact that parakeets use trees as food sources and support for the nests, and that older people often feed the species. Data support the 'human-activity' hypothesis to explain how invasive species can successfully establish in a non-native habitat, and stress how limiting food resources, especially food supplied by humans, may be the easiest way to exert some control on Monk parakeet populations. © 2012 Museu de Ciéncies Naturals de Barcelona. Source

Vincze O.,Babes - Bolyai University | Vincze O.,Debrecen University | Szekely T.,University of Bath | Kupper C.,University of Sheffield | And 10 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Social behaviours are highly variable between species, populations and individuals. However, it is contentious whether behavioural variations are primarily moulded by the environment, caused by genetic differences, or a combination of both. Here we establish that biparental care, a complex social behaviour that involves rearing of young by both parents, differs between closely related populations, and then test two potential sources of variation in parental behaviour between populations: ambient environment and genetic differentiation. We use 2904 hours behavioural data from 10 geographically distinct Kentish (Charadrius alexandrinus) and snowy plover (C. nivosus) populations in America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa to test these two sources of behavioural variation. We show that local ambient temperature has a significant influence on parental care: with extreme heat (above 40°C) total incubation (i.e. % of time the male or female incubated the nest) increased, and female share (% female share of incubation) decreased. By contrast, neither genetic differences between populations, nor geographic distances predicted total incubation or female's share of incubation. These results suggest that the local environment has a stronger influence on a social behaviour than genetic differentiation, at least between populations of closely related species. © 2013 Vincze et al. Source

Jovani R.,CSIC - Donana Biological Station | Montalvo T.,Servei de Vigilancia i Control de Plagues Urbanes | Sabate S.,Laboratori Of Lagencia Of Salut Publica Of Barcelona Aspb
Journal of Ornithology | Year: 2014

Fault bars are conspicuous malformations on bird feathers that are produced during feather growth. The causes of fault bars are poorly understood. In our study, we used the presence of Campylobacter jejuni infection in 302 urban feral pigeons (Columba livia) as a proxy of physiological stress and correlated this stress with fault bar abundance. The overall prevalence of Campylobacter infection in these birds was 24.5 %. Bacterial infection was equally prevalent in young birds and adults, but males showed a slightly higher prevalence than females. Fault bars were more abundant in young birds than in adults, particularly among young males. Pigeons with Campylobacter infection had more fault bars than uninfected birds. These results suggest that the physiological state of the individual bird could be as important as external stressors in determining the occurrence of fault bars and that parasites may play a role in fault bar formation. © 2014 Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. Source

Munoz J.-N.,Don Ana Biological Station | Eritja R.,Servei de Control de Mosquits | Alcaide M.,Don Ana Biological Station | Alcaide M.,Harvard University | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Medical Entomology | Year: 2011

The feeding patterns of haematophagous arthropods are of major importance in the amplification and transmission of infectious disease agents to vertebrate hosts, including humans. The establishment of new vector populations in nonnative range might alter transmission networks. The Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus (Skuse) represents an example of how an invasive species can alter the risk of viral transmission to humans. Blood meal molecular identification from two sympatric mosquito species (the invasive Ae. albopictus and the native Culex pipiens) was carried out by polymerase chain reaction-based methods. Samples were collected in Barcelona metropolitan area, Spain, from June to October 2009 as part of a monitoring-control program. Blood meals were identified to the species level in 30 Ae. albopictus and 43 Cx. pipiens. Ae. albopictus acquired blood exclusively from human hosts (100%), whereas Cx. pipiens fed on a diversity of avian and mammalian hosts, including 35.7% of blood meals from humans. Based on mosquito diet, our results suggest that the Ae. albopictus invasion in Spain might increase the risk of virus transmission to humans and could support local outbreaks of imported tropical viruses such as dengue and chikungunya. However, in the studied area, the presence of this invasive species would have a negligible effect on the transmission of zoonotic agents such as West Nile virus. However, Cx. pipiens could amplify and transmit West Nile virus, but avian contribution to its diet was lower than that reported in North America. Feeding patterns of these mosquito species may help to understand the flavivirus outbreaks recently reported in southwestern Europe. © 2011 Entomological Society of America. Source

Senar J.C.,Natural History Museum of Barcelona Barcelona Spain | Montalvo T.,Servei de Vigilancia i Control de Plagues Urbanes | Pascual J.,Natural History Museum of Barcelona Barcelona Spain | Peracho V.,Servei de Vigilancia i Control de Plagues Urbanes
Pest Management Science | Year: 2016

BACKGROUND: As feeding by humans is one of the main food resources to pigeons (Columba livia), there is general agreement that public education that aims to reduce the food base may be the most feasible way to reduce pigeon abundance. However, except for the classic example of Basel, the method has rarely been tested or implemented. We provide results from a 1 year study in the city of Barcelona where we tested the effect of public education on pigeon population abundance and composition. RESULTS: The quantity of food provided by people to pigeons was significantly reduced during the study. Feral pigeon density was reduced by 40% in the two experimental districts, but no variation was detected in the control district. Detailed analyses in one of the districts showed that the reduction was mainly related to the reduction in food availability but not to culling. Pigeons captured at the end of the experiment were larger than at the start of the study, but body condition was reduced. CONCLUSION: Results show the effectiveness of public information to manage feral pigeon populations in a large city, and that control operations can exert important selection pressure on the population, leading to changes in population composition. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry. Source

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