Innovativeness and the effects of urbanization on risk-taking behaviors in wild Barbados birds
The effects of urbanization on avian cognition remain poorly understood. Risk-taking behaviors like boldness, neophobia and flight distance are thought to affect opportunism and innovativeness, and should also vary with urbanization. Here, we investigate variation in risk-taking behaviors in the field in an avian assemblage of nine species that forage together in Barbados and for which innovation rate is known from previous work. We predicted that birds from highly urbanized areas would show more risk-taking behavior than conspecifics from less urbanized parts of the island and that the differences would be strongest in the most innovative of the species. Overall, we found that urban birds are bolder, less neophobic and have shorter flight distances than their less urbanized conspecifics. Additionally, we detected between-species differences in the effect of urbanization on flight distance, more innovative species showing smaller differences in flight distance between areas. Our results suggest that, within successful urban colonizers, species differences in innovativeness may affect the way species change their risk-taking behaviors in response to the urban environment.
KeywordsUrbanization Innovation Neophobia Flight initiation distance
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