Universität Innsbruck

Evolutionary consequences of bird feeding


Bird feeding, that is intentional feeding through the provision of food to free-living birds, is undoubtedly the public's most common form of active engagement with nature in urbanised areas in Europe. For instance, in the UK, more than 60% of households regularly feed birds. Given the scale of supplementary feeding and its growing popularity, any effect of this practice may have important implications for bird ecology and urban ecosystems in general. Amongst others, bird feeding, by altering bird diet and food resource distribution in time and space is likely to shape selective pressures and gene flow within urbanised landscapes. Through this project, I aim to shed light on evolutionary changes resulting from bird feeding and to disentangle the evolutionary mechanisms underlying such modifications. More specifically, I am trying to answer two core questions:

1) How does bird feeding shape genetic connectivity within the urban mosaic?

2) Is bird feeding responsible for divergent selection within the urban mosaic?

To answer these questions, I am studying great tits (Parus major) and blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) within the urban mosaic of Innsbruck.

This project is funded by the Elise Richter grant V 953-B from the FWF – Austria.   


AAE members involved in the bird feeding project:

Marion Chatelain (PI), Michael Traugott (collaborator)



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Project updates



Blue tit

The first bird sampling campaign is over! 

The first sampling campaign was a success: more than 300 great tits and blue tits have been ringed and measured. Five of them were old acquaintances from two years ago! The next campaign will start in November. 

13th of June 2023


The project on the UIBK newsroom! 

Interested in the project? You can read more on the UIBK newsroom (in German).

6th of March 2023



Thank you very much to all the people who sent me e-mails to show their interest in the project! Special thanks to Siegfried Tasser for this great picture of great tits, a blue tit and a blackbird waiting for food! 

6th of March 2023


The fieldwork successfully started! 

The fieldwork started on the 1st of March. In just to days, we studied 21 birds: 12 blue tits and 9 great tits. The spring sampling campaign will carry on until the end of May. 

3rd of March 2023


The project in the spotlight!

The fieldwork is expected to start in March. In the meantime, you can read more about the project in der Standard!  

30th of January 2023

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