Navigation Links
A dog in the hand scares birds in the bush

New research showing that dog-walking in bushland significantly reduces bird diversity and abundance will lend support to bans against the practice in sensitive bushland and conservation areas.

Until now, arguments and debate about the ecological impacts of dog-walking have remained subjective and unresolved because experimental evidence has been lacking.

But the first clear evidence that birds perceive dogs as predators and avoid dog-walking areas is published today in Biology Letters, reporting research by UNSW biologist Peter Banks.

We found in field studies that dog-walking in bushland causes a 35 percent reduction in bird diversity the number of species and a 41 percent reduction in abundance the number of individual birds in an area, says Dr Banks.

The effect occurs even in areas where dog-walking is common and where they are prohibited, indicating that birds dont become accustomed to continued disturbance by dogs.

This evidence clearly supports the long term prohibition of dog-walking from sensitive conservation areas, Banks says.

The revelation has immediate implications for popular recreation activities such as bird-watching and eco-tourism, where visitor satisfaction has a strong relationship to the number of species seen.

The experiment was conducted at 90 sites in the Hornsby-Berowra-Cowan regions, 35kms north of Sydney, Australia. The area was chosen because it contains remnants of bushland with trails that are either frequently dog-walked or where dog-walking is prohibited.

The experiment used three conditions to study dogs impact on birds: (1) a person walking a dog on a lead on a trail; (2) a person walking alone on a trail; (3) a control condition with no dog walking or humans.

Observers monitored all native birds seen or heard within 50 metres of a 250-metre trail. Monitoring commenced 20 seconds after the walker/dog-walker had set off and continued for 10 minutes.

Ground-dwellings birds appeared most affected: 50 percent of bird species observed in control sites were absent in dog-walked sites. The effect of dog-walking was most pronounced in the area immediately adjacent to the site where dogs were walked, according to Dr Banks.

There were 76 fewer birds within 10 metres of the trail when dog-walking occurred compared to control sites, suggesting birds were seeking refuge away from the immediate vicinity of threat."

The particular sensitivity of ground-dwelling birds to dog-walking was of concern because it could lead to a cascade of behavioural changes that could further threaten these species, Dr Banks says.

Dog-walking was also likely to affect the accuracy of wildlife surveys that are used to map bird distributions around the world.


Contact: Dr. Peter Banks
University of New South Wales

Related biology news :

1. Birds brains reveal source of songs
2. Migratory songbirds have a specialized night-vision brain area
3. The lopsided brain: Attention bias is shared by humans and birds
4. Bobbing birds do it for a reason
5. Mother birds increase progesterone to hatch females
6. Overbearing colored light may reveal a second mechanism by which birds interpret magnetic signals
7. Industrial contaminants spread by seabirds in High Arctic, new Canadian study shows
8. Birds and bats sow tropical seeds
9. Displaced songbirds navigate in the high Arctic
10. Oil spills and climate change double the mortality rate of British seabirds
11. Wild birds help to create human flu vaccine
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/22/2016)... Md. , June 22, 2016  The American College ... Trade Show Executive Magazine as one of the ... on May 25-27 at the Bellagio in Las ... on the highest percentage of growth in each of the ... of exhibiting companies and number of attendees. The 2015 ACMG ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... WASHINGTON , June 22, 2016 On ... highly-anticipated call to industry to share solutions for the ... by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that ... nationals are departing the United States ... criminals, and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... June 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, a ... solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring ... involved, it has secured the final acceptance by ... for Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus ... to be installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... 27, 2016  Liquid Biotech USA ... of a Sponsored Research Agreement with The University ... (CTCs) from cancer patients.  The funding will be ... correlate with clinical outcomes in cancer patients undergoing ... then be employed to support the design of ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use the z-dimension ... are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. Z-dimension ... bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent flow cell ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   Boston ... of novel compounds designed to target cancer stemness ... has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the ... treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) ... inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is pleased to announce ... Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI approval of the Peel ... President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate methods perform comparably to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: