Light pollution dampens urban robins' song
Robins are up and about earlier than most other songbirds, and they are in almost every city park in the UK, making them ideal for this urban study.
The scientists used a stuffed robin and a recording of the bird's song, setting up this fake avian intruder in different areas. They then measured each bird's response, recording how much it sang and displayed to defend its territory. This helped them construct a dominance hierarchy of the park's resident robins. Birds that lived closest to street-lit paths and to busy roads were much lower in this hierarchy. They were less vocal and aggressive.
The researchers now want to establish if night-time light and man-made noise affects birds' abilities to forage or breed. They hope the findings might be built into urban planning to make city parks spaces designed for wildlife as well as for people.
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