Surviving in sprawling suburbs: suburban environments represent high quality breeding habitat for a widespread shorebird

Adam PA Cardilini, Michael A Weston, Dale G Nimmo, Peter Dann, Craig DH Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Throughout the world, urban sprawl converts agricultural land to urban environments, however, little is known of the influence of such landscape change on the reproductive success of native species. We predicted that reproductive success would be suppressed by urban sprawl through habitat degradation and indirectly through compromised quality of parental care from human disturbance. We studied the masked lapwing, Vanellus miles, a common ground-nesting species that occurs in both agricultural and suburban landscapes. Contrary to our predictions, parents in suburban environments invested more in defence of eggs (aggression and distraction) yet suburban female lapwings were in better condition (7% heavier) and laid 2% longer eggs than agricultural female lapwings, suggesting greater access to food resources in suburban than agricultural environments. Lapwings had higher hatching success in suburban compared with agricultural environments, leading to greater reproductive success; a similar rate of chick mortality was evident between environments. The conversion of land from agriculture to suburbia results in species which are winners and losers, some of which (e.g., for species such as the ground-nesting lapwing) are difficult to predict a priori. Despite an overall trend of decreasing avian diversity with increasing urbanisation world-wide, suburban environments have the capacity to act as high quality breeding habitat for species such as the masked lapwing, although such species may be the exception rather than the rule.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Early online date30 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


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