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Breeding tree selection of the rook: spatial distribution in the Vorder- and Südpfalz and influence of temperature, artificial light and noise in urban areas

  • The growing numbers of breeding rooks (Corvus frugilegus) in the city of Landau (Rhineland- Palatinate, Germany) increase the potential for conflict between rooks and humans, which is mainly associated with noise and faeces. Therefore, the aim of this work is a better understanding of the breeding tree selection of the rook in order to develop options for action and management in the future. Part I of this thesis provides general background information on the rook and includes mapping of the rookeries in the Anterior Palatinate and South Palatinate including Landau in the year 2020. That mapping revealed that the number of rural colonies has decreased, while the number of urban colonies has increased in the study area in the last few years. In line with current literature, tree species and tree size were important criteria for breeding tree selection. However, the mapping showed that additional factors must be important as well. Therefore, as rooks seem to often breed along traffic axes, Part II of this thesis examines how temperature, artificial light and noise, which are all linked to traffic axes, affect the breeding tree selection of the rook in the city of Landau. The following three hypotheses are developed: (1) manually selected breeding trees (Bm) have a warmer microclimate than manually selected non-breeding trees (Nm) or randomly selected non-breeding trees (Nr), (2) Bm are exposed to a higher light level than Nm or Nr and (3) Bm are exposed to a higher noise level than Nm or Nr. To test these hypotheses, 15 Bm, 13 Nm and 16 Nr are investigated. The results show that Bm were exposed to more noise than both types of non-breeding trees (μBm, noise = 36.52481 dB, μNm, noise = 31.27229 dB, μNr, noise = 29.17417 dB) where the difference between Bm and Nr was significant. In addition, there was a tendency for Bm to be exposed to less light (μBm, light = 0.356 lx) than Nm (μNm, light = 0.4107692 lx) and significantly less light than Nr (μNr, light = 1.995 lx), while temperature did not differ between the groups (μBm, temp = 16.90549 °C, μNm, temp = 16.93118 °C, μNr, temp = 17.28639 °C). This study shows for the first time that rooks prefer trees which are exposed to low light levels and high noise levels, i.e. more intense traffic noise, for breeding. It can only be speculated that the cause of this is lower enemy pressure at such sites. The fact that temperature does not seem to have any influence on breeding tree selection may be due to only small temperature differences at nest height, which might be compensated by breeding behaviour. Consequently, in the long term one management approach could be to divert traffic from inner-city areas, especially schools and hospitals, to bypasses. If tree genera suitable for rooks, such as plane trees, are planted along the bypasses, those sites could provide suitable alternative habitats to inner-city breeding locations, which become less attractive for breeding due to noise reduction. In the short term in addition to locally implemented repellent measures the most effective approach is to strengthen rook acceptance among the population. However, further research is needed to verify the results of this thesis and to gain further insights into rook breeding site selection in order to develop effective management measures.

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Author:Sabine Rothaug
Referee:Martin Entling
Advisor:Verena Rösch
Document Type:Master's Thesis
Date of completion:2022/07/23
Date of publication:2022/07/25
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau, Fachbereich 7
Release Date:2022/07/25
Tag:Breeding tree selection; Corvus frugilegus; Rook
Number of pages:III, 101, LIII Seiten
Institutes:Fachbereich 7 / Institut für Umweltwissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG