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Habitat-use influences severe disease-mediated population declines in two of the most common garden bird species in Great Britain

Hanmer, HJ; Cunningham, AA; John, SK; Magregor, SK; Robinson, RA; Seilern-Moy, K; Siriwardena, GM; (2022) Habitat-use influences severe disease-mediated population declines in two of the most common garden bird species in Great Britain. Scientific Reports , 12 , Article 15055. 10.1038/s41598-022-18880-8. Green open access

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Abstract

The influence of supplementary feeding of wildlife on disease transmission and its consequent impacts on population dynamics are underappreciated. In Great Britain, supplementary feeding is hypothesised to have enabled the spread of the protozoan parasite, Trichomonas gallinae, from columbids to finches, leading to epidemic finch trichomonosis and a rapid population decline of greenfinch (Chloris chloris). More recently, chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), has also declined markedly from the second to fifth commonest bird in Britain. Using citizen science data, we show that both declines were driven primarily by reduced adult survival, with the greatest reductions occurring in peri-domestic habitats, where supplementary food provision is common. Post-mortem examinations showed a proportional increase in chaffinch trichomonosis cases, near-contemporaneous with its population decline. Like greenfinches, chaffinches often use supplementary food, but are less associated with human habitation. Our results support the hypothesis that supplementary feeding can increase parasite transmission frequency within and between common species. However, the dynamics behind resultant population change can vary markedly, highlighting the need for integrating disease surveillance with demographic monitoring. Other species susceptible to T. gallinae infection may also be at risk. Supplementary feeding guidelines for wildlife should include disease mitigation strategies to ensure that benefits to target species outweigh risks.

Type: Article
Title: Habitat-use influences severe disease-mediated population declines in two of the most common garden bird species in Great Britain
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-18880-8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-18880-8
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Conservation biology, Ecological epidemiology, Ecology, Population dynamics, Urban ecology
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10156735
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