Multiple fragmented habitat-patch use in an urban breeding passerine, the Short-toed Treecreeper

Individual responses of wild birds to fragmented habitat have rarely been studied, despite large-scale habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss resulting from widespread urbanisation. We investigated the spatial ecology of the Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla, a tiny, resident, woodland passerine that has recently colonised city parks at the northern extent of its range. High resolution spatiotemporal movements of this obligate treeliving species were determined using radio telemetry within the urbanized matrix of city parks in Copenhagen, Denmark. We identified regular edge crossing behaviour, novel in woodland birds. While low numbers of individuals precluded a comprehensive characterisation of home range for this population, we were able to describe a consistent behaviour which has consequences for our understanding of animal movement in urban ecosystems. We report that treecreepers move freely, and apparently do so regularly, between isolated habitat patches. This behaviour is a possible driver of the range expansion in this species and may contribute to rapid dispersal capabilities in certain avian species, including Shorttoed Treecreepers, into northern Europe. Alternatively, these behaviours might be common and/or provide an adaptive advantage for birds utilising matrix habitats, for example within urban ecosystems.