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Urban habitats are characterized by a number of unique environmental variables, including modified vegetative structure, fragmentation, small patch size, invasive species, and higher levels of anthropogenic noise. Many songbird species are found less frequently in these types of habitats, but this pattern is far from universal. This has led many to ask whether common urban species are more adaptable in novel environments, or whether this subset of species has been pre-adapted for urban survival. Much of my own research has been geared towards understanding the effects of anthropogenic noise on songbirds and determining which, if any, song traits facilitate higher urban persistence. However, perception of bird sounds is only a small piece of the soundscape a songbird must navigate. Other sounds, such as predator calls, may also be hampered by anthropogenic noise. Yet, less is known about how noise effects communication networks beyond the sender-receiver relationship. I will present results from a series of experiments designed to examine whether pitch and temporal plasticity can be utilized by songbirds to adapt to high levels of noise, then turn my attention towards perception, examining whether urban songbirds can perceive an aerial predator in the midst of increased noise. Finally, I ask whether we can manipulated natural behavior patterns to increase songbird diversity despite the apparent disparity in some traits between species which inhabit urban areas and those that do not.
This is an Abstract from the "International Urban Wildlife Conference" symposium.