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IBIS  |  Volume 159  |  Issue 1  |  January 2017


The January issue of IBIS is one of our biggest yet, containing a Review, seventeen Original Articles, four Short Communications and a Viewpoint.

Here are four of the many highlights in this issue.

A decadal review of urban ornithology and a prospectus for the future  

John Marzluff 
In a thoughtful and far-ranging review, doyen of urban ornithology Professor John Marzluff of the University of Washington in Seattle assesses the current state of urban ornithology. He shows that studies of birds in urban environments have increased exponentially, and that while the focus of these studies remains rooted in northern latitudes, there is clear evidence that interest in urban ornithology is spreading to tropical regions. He provides evidence that urban ornithology is maturing as a discipline, with a move away from purely documentary accounts of the avifaunas of cities to a more hypothesis-driven approach to assessing the demographic and phenotypic responses of birds to urbanisation and to recognising the response of human city dwellers to their avian neighbours as a legitimate and worthwhile field of study. Professor Marzluff concludes by suggesting a number of future directions that urban ornithology may take, such as assessing how birds survive in urban environments with abundant predators and predicting how functional biotic homogenisation may influence the functioning of urban bird communities.

Stability in prey abundance may buffer Black Sparrowhawks Accipiter melanoleucus from health impacts of urbanization 
Jessleena Suri, Petra Sumasgutner, Eleonore Hellard, Ann Koeslag & Arjun Amar 
As if in response to John Marzluff’s call for a more holistic approach to urban ornithology, Jessleena Suri and colleagues from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, address the question of how Black Sparrowhawks have managed to colonise and thrive in the dense urban sprawl of Cape Town, and specifically how their health is affected by life in an urban environment. Using measures of physiological stress and parasite burden, they show that Black Sparrowhawk chicks in nests in urban environments are unaffected by the degree of urbanisation around them, and indeed have lower levels of disease transmitted by insect vectors in the most urbanised areas. The authors suggest that the ready availability of prey species in even the most urbanised parts of Cape Town buffers this top predator against the negative health impacts of city life.

Provision of supplementary food for wild birds may increase the risk of local nest predation 
Hugh J. Hanmer, Rebecca L. Thomas & Mark D. E. Fellowes
Staying with the theme of urban ecology, Hugh Hamner and colleagues from the University of Reading, UK, assess whether feeding birds in gardens influences the predation rate of nests nearby. Noting that in some parts of the world, up to half of all households regularly provide food for birds in their gardens, and that this also attracts avian and mammalian nest predators, they predicted that nest predation would be higher near centres of food provision. Using artificial nests and an experimental design using both filled and empty feeders, the authors show that nest predation rates are indeed significantly higher near filled feeders than near empty feeders. This has profound implications for assessing the overall ecological effect of providing artificial food sources for birds. 

Assessing the importance of artificial nest-sites in the population dynamics of endangered Northern Aplomado Falcons Falco femoralis septentrionalis in South Texas using stochastic simulation models
Christopher J. W. McClure, Benjamin P. Pauli,Brian Mutch & Paul Juergens
Building on the theme of the provision of artificial resources, Christopher McClure and colleagues at the Peregrine Fund and at Boise State University assess the success of providing artificial nest platforms to the reintroduced population of Aplomado Falcons in southern Texas, USA. Using stochastic simulation models, they show that the provision of such platforms has enabled the population to increase to its current level, something that would not have been possible in the absence of such platforms. The level of productivity that such platforms has made possible means that the number of birds will saturate the available habitat, and that any subsequent increase in breeding pairs will only be possible with the creation of further areas of suitable habitat. The study elegantly demonstrates the massive conservation gains that can be achieved by providing resources as simple and cost effective as nesting platforms.

Also in this issue:
  • Viewpoint | Co-occurance of birds and bats in natural nest-holes > View
  • Book reviews > View
  • BOU Records Committee 45th report > View
  • Issue contents > View
  • All issues View
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From avian tracking to population processes 

Warwick, 28 - 30 Mar 2017


We are still accepting poster abstracts - on any topic!

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Recent posts from #theBOUblog

We publish new blog posts most Mondays. Here are some of our recent posts illustrating the diversity of topics in #theBOUblog.

Conference tweeting: what is it good for?
Steve Dudley

Nest predation in urban gardens
Hugh Hamner

Winter Buzzard diet on a Red Grouse moor
Richard M. Franssen

Raptors as urban-adaptors?
Jessleena Suri

Habitat restoration goes downhill
Enrico Caprio

Reversing population declines in a migratory bird species
Catriona Morrison

Kudos and ORCiD - how do they work?
Lauren McNeill

Let's 'chat' about habitat
Jennifer Border

Drab females are warm mothers
Marsaru Hasewawa

Writing for #theBOUblog

We are always looking for new and interesting blogs.
If you've published a paper recently, or have one due out, in any journal, then
promote it here. We'll also push it on social media for you!

Our blog is very popular and we are usually working on a month waiting time to publish posts. So get in touch with us early! 

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How social are ornithologists?
The BOU's Steve Dudley and RSPB's Jen Smart presented a poster at NAOC2016 on the use of social media in ornithology. The poster is taken from their IBIS Viewpoint article of the same title which looks at the rise of social media use by ornithologists and how this activity contributes to a research paper's Altmetric Attention Score.

> View the poster and paper.
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Black-tailed Godwit image © Andreas Trepte | via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.5