Creating their own ecological niche: feral pigeons in urban areas
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This thesis focuses on the problems regarding feral pigeons in the urban habitat. These problems include the corrosive effects of pigeons droppings on buildings and noise complaints. The aim of this thesis is specify suggestions for the management of urban feral pigeon populations, based on the ecological information regarding feral pigeons (Columba livia domestica). To provide an answer to the research question several ecological theories are examined, such as the carrying capacity, the Lotka-Volterra model and the ecological niche. After an examination of the ecological characteristics of feral pigeons, an overlap is detected in the needs of the feral pigeon and the offerings of urban habitats. The preference of the feral pigeon for urban habitats can be explained by the lack of predators, the ample availability of nesting spaces and the constant supply of food. After defining the problem and specifying the contributing factors, the second half of the thesis focuses on population management options that would reduce the population size of feral pigeons in urban habitats. Since current tactics are not sufficient, long-term or keep animal welfare in mind, a new solution needs to be found. The findings of this thesis suggest that the most effective and lasting method of population management is based on ecological knowledge of the habitat and the species. To reduce the number of feral pigeons in urban habitats, the habitat has to be altered in a way that it becomes less desirable for the species. A first step could be the banning of large-scale bird feeding and making food waste less accessible to feral pigeons. However, there is no perfect global solution. Every urban habitat differs and has different specific ecological characteristics, therefore to successfully propose a population management plan, specific ecological research has to be conduct for every city that has problems regarding their feral pigeon populations.