2004 Volume 3 Issue 2 Pages 113-117
Information on breeding success of birds of the Indian subcontinent is almost negligible. The present study, carried out during the breeding seasons of 1997-1999 inclusive at Hardwar in northern India (29°55′N; 78°8′E), compared the breeding success of Spotted Munia Lonchura punctulata in urbanized and more natural forested habitats. A significant difference was found in total breeding success between the two habitats, being 48.7% in urban areas and only 31.6% in forest. Although differences in eggs hatched (70.3% vs 60.3%) and nestlings reared (57.7% vs 51.9%) were less, significantly more fledglings survived in urban areas (89.0%) than in forested habitat (70.9%). This indicates that the greater breeding success of Spotted Munia in urbanized habitats is due primarily to higher rates of post fledgling survival there. A number of factors may affect reproductive success differently between habitats. In forest, nests were built in isolated thorny trees (e.g. Acasia nilotica) outside of forest canopy cover. In urban areas, however, the trees or shrubs selected for nesting were mostly of introduced species (e.g. Thuja orientalis, Polyanthea longifolia), all densely foliaged and rendering predation difficult. Although the typical habitat of Hardwar town is not natural, the Spotted Munia has evidently adapted quickly and successfully in its landscape. Such shifts in behaviour are not instantaneous and newly acquired behaviour takes time to spread. It would be interesting to determine whether these behavioural shifts in Spotted Munia are based on culturally transmitted learning or on genetic change.
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