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Urban and Natural Components of Korean Magpie (Pica pica sericea) Territories and Their Effects on Prey Density
Kim, S., Srygley, R. B., Lee, J. Y., Lee, S. I., & Choe, J. C.
Urban landscapes have a negative impact on bird species diversity, yet particular species thrive in urban communities. Like many other corvids, the Korean magpie is a successful colonizer of urban environments. On the semi-urban campus of Seoul National University in Korea, we investigated whether magpies adjust territory size with building area and secondarily, whether they use vegetation and artificial components of their territory as indicators of prey density. We measured territorial areas and divided these into vegetation and artificial areas, distinguishing building area as a separate feature. We sampled prey density on each territory during the nestling stage. Territory size increased with the square root of building area (SRBA). As the length of building perimeter also increases with SRBA, we conclude that territory size was proportional to building perimeter. Prey density decreased with SRBA indicating that buildings had a negative impact on prey. Breeding success was also negatively related to SRBA. We suggest that magpies adjusted territory size according to the length of building perimeter due to a decline in prey density. As prey density declined, artificial pavement area was added to include open trash bins, which increase the availability of anthropogenic refuse such as discarded food. Vegetation area declined as prey density increased, but changes in vegetation area were minor and had little impact on prey availability measured at ground level. Structural cues were not used to adjust vegetation area, and artificial structural cues were not used to adjust territorial size over direct monitoring of prey density.