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I have utilised an assemblage of 91 bird species, their urban tolerance status objectively classified, with data on bird flight initiation distance (FID), to test questions of the importance of birds’ fearfulness of humans in determining urban tolerance or intolerance in the metropolis of Melbourne, Australia. While several studies have shown that mean FID for bird species (mFID) differs between rural and urban populations of bird species, stronger predictive ability is shown by variability in FID (cvFID) in modelling urban invasiveness. I test two hypotheses. Firstly, that mFID will be shorter in urban exploiter bird species than urban adapters and avoiders. Secondly that cvFID is positively correlated with bird incidence at the landscape scale in Melbourne. Relatively weak explanatory power of cvFID found in this study suggest that environmental and behavioural factors acting in concert better explain the urban tolerance of bird species and assemblages, rather than fearfulness alone.
I'm in the process of having this manuscript peer reviewed at 'Acta Ethologica', but open to comments from the broader community too.