The composition of British bird communities is associated with long-term garden bird feeding

There is a multi-billion dollar global industry dedicated to feeding wild birds in residential gardens. This extraordinary boost to food resources is almost certainly reshaping entire bird communities, yet the large-scale, long-term impacts on community ecology remain unknown. Here we reveal a 40-year transformation of the bird communities using garden bird feeders in Britain, and provide evidence to suggest how this may have contributed to national-scale population changes. We find that increases in bird diversity at feeders are associated with increasing community evenness, as species previously rarely observed in gardens have increasingly exploited the growing variety of foods on offer over time. Urban areas of Britain are consequently nurturing growing populations of feeder-using bird species, while the populations of species that do not use feeders remain unchanged. Our findings illustrate the on-going, gross impact people can have on bird community structure across large spatial scales.

Nature

Last updated on 20 June 2019

Type: 
Media Watch
Region: 
Europe
Species group: 
Birds