Reduced human activity during COVID-19 alters avian land use across North America
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The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in extraordinary declines in human mobility, which, in turn, may affect wildlife. Using records of more than 4.3 million birds observed by volunteers from March to May 2017-2020 across Canada and the United States, we found that counts of 66 (80%) of 82 focal bird species changed in pandemic-altered areas, usually increasing in comparison to prepandemic abundances in urban habitat, near major roads and airports, and in counties where lockdowns were more pronounced or occurred at the same time as peak bird migration. Our results indicate that human activity affects many of North America's birds and suggest that we could make urban spaces more attractive to birds by reducing traffic and mitigating the disturbance from human transportation after we emerge from the pandemic.
Schrimpf , M B , Des Brisay , P G , Johnston , A , Smith , A C , Sanchez-Jasso , J , Robinson , B G , Warrington , M H , Mahony , N A , Horn , A G , Strimas-Mackey , M , Fahrig , L & Koper , N 2021 , ' Reduced human activity during COVID-19 alters avian land use across North America ' , Science Advances , vol. 7 , no. 39 , 5073 . https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abf5073
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DescriptionFunding: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Alliance COVID-19 grant ALLRP 550721-20. In-kind support was provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
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