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Time Since Urbanization but Not Encephalisation Is Associated with Increased Tolerance of Human Proximity in Birds [Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution]

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

The examination of links between a high degree of encephalisation (i.e., a large brain mass relative to body size) and the capacity of wildlife to inhabit anthropogenic habitats has formed the basis of several recent studies, although typically they have not uncovered any relationship. It, however, remains unclear whether encephalisation is directly related to a species’ capacity to develop tolerance to human proximity (i.e., a reduction in response to approaching humans). It is also unknown whether such a relationship is related to the size of specific areas of the brain. Using published data on flight-initiation distance (FID), the distance at which animals flee from an approaching human, we estimate the degree of tolerance of human proximity for 42 bird species by comparing FIDs in urban and rural areas, with relatively high and low exposure to humans, respectively. We used a phylogenetic, comparative approach to analyse the relationship of degree of tolerance, and of FID in urban and rural populations more directly, to relative sizes of whole brains (42 species) and brain components (25 species) for the species, and examine the effect of the year that the bird species was first recorded in an urban area (year of urbanization). (...)

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