Waterbird species were used to assess the consequences of developed habitat on wildlife behaviour in an urban riparian system along the Rideau River in Ottawa, Canada. Fourteen developed sites and 14 undeveloped sites were surveyed from October 2004 to February 2005. Each site was approached on foot and the first observed behaviour (i.e., fleeing, foraging, resting or swimming) of each individual was recorded. A total of 10,604 behavioural observations were made across 12 taxa. Overall, the fleeing behaviour was observed more often at undeveloped sites. Foraging, resting and swimming behaviours were observed more often at developed sites. We found that seven species fled more often at undeveloped sites, including hooded merganser. This species was also more abundant at undeveloped sites, suggesting that hooded merganser may be more sensitive to anthropogenic disturbance in urban environments than other species that are habituated toward humans. For sensitive species, undeveloped shoreline may serve as a refuge from human disturbance in urban ecosystems.

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Urban Ecosystems
Department of Biology

Donaldson, M.R. (Michael R.), Henein, K.M. (Kringen M.), & Runtz, M. (2007). Assessing the effect of developed habitat on waterbird behaviour in an urban riparian system in Ottawa, Canada. Urban Ecosystems, 10(2), 139–151. doi:10.1007/s11252-006-0015-2