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Management-Related Traffic as a Stressor Eliciting Parental Care in a Roadside-Nesting Bird: The European Bee-Eater Merops apiaster

AutorBlas, Julio ; Abaurrea, Teresa; D'Amico, Marcello ; Barcellona, Francesca; Revilla, Eloy ; Román, Jacinto ; Carrete, Martina
Fecha de publicación2016
EditorPublic Library of Science
CitaciónPLoS ONE, 11 (10): e0164371. (2016)
ResumenTraffic is often acknowledged as a threat to biodiversity, but its effects have been mostly studied on roads subjected to high traffic intensity. The impact of lower traffic intensity such as those affecting protected areas is generally neglected, but conservation-oriented activities entailing motorized traffic could paradoxically transform suitable habitats into ecological traps. Here we questioned whether roadside-nesting bee-eaters Merops apiaster perceived low traffic intensity as a stressor eliciting risk-avoidance behaviors (alarm calls and flock flushes) and reducing parental care. Comparisons were established within Doñana National Park (Spain), between birds exposed to either negligible traffic (ca. 0±10 vehicles per day) or low traffic intensity (ca. 10±90 vehicles per day) associated to management and research activities. The frequencies of alarm calls and flock flushes were greater in areas of higher traffic intensity, which resulted in direct mortality at moderate vehicle speeds ( 40 km/h). Parental feeding rates paralleled changes in traffic intensity, but contrary to our predictions. Indeed, feeding rates were highest in traffic-exposed nests, during working days and traffic rush-hours. Traffic-avoidance responses were systematic and likely involved costs (energy expenditure and mortality), but vehicle transit positively influenced the reproductive performance of bee-eaters through an increase of nestling feeding rates. Because the expected outcome of traffic on individual performance can be opposed when responses are monitored during mating (i.e. negative effect by increase of alarm calls and flock flushes) or nestling-feeding period (i.e. at least short-term positive effect by increase of nestling feeding rates), caution should be taken before inferring fitness consequences only from isolated behaviors or specific life history stages.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0164371
DOI10.1371/journal. pone.0164371
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