Applying Community Ecology to Manipulate and Conserve Hummingbird Diversity in Urban Habitats
Conservation & Reconciliation
AdvisorRosenzweig, Michael L.
Committee ChairRosenzweig, Michael L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDiversity within a habitat is determined largely by ecology and species interactions. Studies to date, however, rarely examined the role of intraspecific aggression in promoting coexistence and diversity. This is especially true in cities, where community ecology is poorly understood. This knowledge is important for basic understanding of how ecological principals come into play in our newly created habitats, as well as for reconciling human-dominated areas for wildlife.I studied the effect of human-made habitats on hummingbird abundance and diversity in Tucson, Arizona. To do that, I examined community organization and competitive interactions among four hummingbird species. I answer the questions: What is the community organization of hummingbirds in Tucson? How do characteristics of human habitats (e.g., landscaping and artificial resources) affect diversity? What mechanism underlies this pattern? And how can we apply this knowledge to conservation?To perform this study, I established a citizen science project - the Tucson Hummingbird Project (http://hummingbirds.arizona.edu). Trained participants reported abundance and behavior of hummingbirds in their backyards. Landscaping and resources (feeders and nectar plants) varied between yards.Results show that the distribution of hummingbirds in Tucson varies by species. Diversity, rather than merely abundance, increased with higher habitat heterogeneity and with more resources. Competitive interactions differ between species. Notably, intraspecific competition takes precedence over interspecific competition in the dominant and most common species, Anna's hummingbird.Based on the data, I suggest that Aggressive Resource Neglect (ARN) promotes coexistence and results in higher diversity when resources are augmented. When there are more feeders, they are distributed over a larger area. This reduces the ability of a territory-owner to defend these resources. While the territory-owner chases intruders, other individuals gain access to feeding opportunities. When dominant individuals prefer chasing conspecifics (as with Anna's hummingbird), this results in higher diversity.Besides discussing theoretical aspects, I apply this knowledge to conservation. Information on the community ecology enabled me to suggest ecologically-based ways to reconcile the city for native hummingbirds. By adding resources following an ecological protocol, we can promote biodiversity and surround ourselves with native wildlife, such as hummingbirds.
Degree ProgramEcology & Evolutionary Biology