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European Urbanization and its consequnces for Bird Health and Performance

Final Report Summary - EUBITOX (European Urbanization and its consequnces for Bird Health and Performance)

Urbanisation is a global threat to biodiversity. Some species vanish with urbanisation whereas other seem to cope. The main challenges for urban-dwelling species are for example anthropogenic food (WP1) and the different pollution sources (WP2). Little is still known about the impacts of urbanisation on wildlife and even less about the physiological and molecular mechanisms that underlies the responses and consequences of urbanisation.
In WP1, the results reveal that urban and rural birds differ in their fatty acid (FA) composition of yolk and plasma, of which two FA are essential and can be directly linked to differences in nutrition. For example, ω-6 FA with pro-inflammatory properties was more abundant in urban great tits (Parus major) in winter, whereas ω-3 FA with anti-inflammatory properties were more abundant in rural birds. Following these studies, two additional experiments have been conducted to establish the links between nutrition, fatty acid composition, oxidative stress, growth and survival. To this end, 3 scientific papers have been published in WP1.
In WP2, the results reveal that urban environment is linked to a physiological cost both to young and adult birds, which has implications for young birds’ survival. Transcriptomic data reveals that genes related to epigenetic regulation, fatty acid metabolism, inflammation and oxidative stress are significantly more expressed in urban compared to rural birds. We also found that urban and rural populations across Europe has low genetic differentiation, but several significant divergent loci in response to urbanisation, which suggest that local adaption may play a role in coping with urbanisation. Following these studies, three additional studies have been conducted to establish the links between long- and short-term exposure to NOx pollution. To this end, 4 scientific papers have been published in WP2, 2 papers are submitted and one PhD thesis.
During the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (CIG) the fellow has established her own research line, which she has led independently within the host University. During the grant duration the fellow has published 14 papers, has a h-index of 20 and 1156 citations. The fellow is main supervisor of 2 PhD-students, 2 exchange PhDs (one ERASMUS), 6 post docs (one Marie Curie Sklodowska fellow) and 11 Master- and Bachelor students. The fellow has been invited keynote/ plenary speaker at several international conferences, organized workshops, and given popular science talks. She has been competitive for grants (9), including FORMAS (1.000k€), Future Research Leader (300k€), Swedish Research council (345 k€). She has also been a listed collaborator on 4 successful grants. The fellow is since 2016 an Associate Editor for Functional Ecology, as co-topic Editor for a special issue Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution (2016-2017). The fellow has also been teaching (10%) at the host institution. The fellow has been external examiner on PhD thesis (4), opponent on MSc thesis (2) and been a member of the thesis committees (5).
The Marie Curie CIG has thus very positively supported and contributed to the fellow’s integration to a leading European University and career development, where she now holds a permanent Senior Lectureship.