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Sunrise in the city: disentangling drivers of the avian dawn chorus onset in urban greenspaces
- Lee, Jeffrey G.‐H., MacGregor‐Fors, Ian, Yeh, Pamela J.
- Journal of avian biology 2017 v.48 no.7 pp. 955-964
- birds, humans, infrastructure, regression analysis, surveys, urban areas, vegetation structure
- Urban systems are known to have a number of effects on avian richness, density, and morphological and behavioral traits. However, no study to date has simultaneously examined the wide range of urban variables in relation to the avian dawn chorus, a complex behavioral phenomenon. Previous studies investigating adjustments of the dawn chorus onset in urban settings have mainly been confined to relationships with noise and light levels. In addition to noise and light levels, in this study we included other potentially related environmental characteristics describing vegetation structure, urban infrastructure, and human activity, all of which have been shown to be drivers of bird diversity in urban areas. We conducted dawn chorus surveys at 38 Los Angeles urban greenspaces and used a classification and regression tree analysis to identify specific urban scenarios that best explained timing differences in the dawn chorus onset. Our results show that light level was the most important variable related to the dawn chorus onset time, in which, counter‐intuitively, bird communities in greenspaces with higher light levels had later onsets. In addition, noise was an important factor for the chorus onset in greenspaces with higher light levels. Although our results differ from those of previous studies, these findings highlight the importance of noise and light levels in explaining dawn chorus onset variation, indicating the need for further research in untangling this complex and ecologically important phenomenon.