Causes of population decline of urban house sparrows
Large declines of urban-suburban house sparrow populations have been recorded in many towns and cities across Europe.
- To identify environmental factors which have caused or contributed to the decline of house sparrow populations in towns and cities.
- Starvation of chicks due to lack of invertebrate prey was found to be the main cause of high levels of chick mortality in a declining suburban sparrow population in Leicester.
- Supplementary feeding of mealworms increased nesting success (fledglings produced per nesting attempt) by 55% in Leicester.
- Supplementary feeding of mealworms at 66 colonies in London increased breeding success (by 62%) but only had a small positive impact on colony size (adult abundance). Additional supplementary feeding of seed had no impact on the abundance of fledglings or adult sparrows. There seemed to be plenty of unoccupied suitable nesting sites in the London study areas.
- Food availability is probably not the main cause of the decline in urban sparrow populations.
- Management to enhance invertebrate availability in towns and cities is likely to boost house sparrow breeding success. However, such management is unlikely to lead to a recovery in breeding populations.
Avian malaria-mediated population decline of a widespread iconic bird species
Parasites have the capacity to affect animal populations by modifying host survival, and it is increasingly recognized that infectious disease can negatively impact biodiversity. Populations of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) have declined in many European towns and cities, but the causes of these declines...
- 17 July 2019
- RSPB Authors
- Dr Will Peach
- Dadam, D., Robinson, R.A., Clements, A., Peach, W.J., Bennett, M., Rowcliffe, J.M. & Cunningham, A.A.
- Published in
- Royal Society Open Science 6 (7)