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Habitat selection by an avian top predator in the tropical megacity of Delhi: human activities and socio-religious practices as prey-facilitating tools

AuthorsKumar, Nishant; Gupta, Urvi; Jhala, Yadvendradev; Qureschi, Qamar; Sergio, Fabrizio
KeywordsUrban ecology
Food subsidies
Ritual feeding
Issue Date2018
CitationUrban Ecosystems (2018)
AbstractResearch in urban ecology is growing rapidly in response to the exponential growth of the urban environment. However, few studies have focused on tropical megacities, and on the interplay between predators’ habitat selection and human socio-economic aspects, which may mediate their resilience and coexistence with humans. We examined mechanisms of breeding habitat selection by a synanthropic raptor, the Black Kite Milvus migrans, in Delhi (India) where kites mainly subsist on: (1) human refuse and its associated prey-fauna, and (2) ritualised feeding of kites, particularly practised by Muslims. We used mixed effects models to test the effect of urban habitat configuration and human practices on habitat selection, site occupancy and breeding success. Kite habitat decisions, territory occupancy and breeding success were tightly enmeshed with human activities: kites preferred areas with high human density, poor waste management and a road configuration that facilitated better access to resources provided by humans, in particular to Muslim colonies that provided ritual subsidies. Furthermore, kites bred at ‘clean’ sites with less human refuse only when close to Muslim colonies, suggesting that the proximity to ritual-feeding sites modulated the suitability of other habitats. Rather than a nuisance to avoid, as previously portrayed, humans were a keenly-targeted foraging resource, which tied a predator’s distribution to human activities, politics, history, socio-economics and urban planning at multiple spatio-temporal scales. Many synurbic species may exploit humans in more subtle and direct ways than was previously assumed, but uncovering them will require greater integration of human socio-cultural estimates in urban ecological research
Publisher version (URL)htpp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11252-017-0716-8
Appears in Collections:(EBD) Artículos
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