The synanthropic status of wild rock doves (Columba livia) and their contribution to feral pigeon populations
Wild rock doves still breed in suitable habitats along southern and insular Italy, even if their colonies are threatened by the genetic intrusion of feral pigeons. One of their prominent behaviours is the daily foraging flights from colonial to feeding grounds which involves coming into contact with man-made buildings. These are exploited firstly as roosting places near crop resources and later for nesting. This incipient synanthropy is not extended to direct food dependence on humans, by which they tend to remain independent. In the same way that ferals genetically intruded the wild colonies, in urban habitats, rock doves mix with ferals because of the large interbreeding possibilities. In the natural range of the wild species, this has occurred since the appearance of the feral form of pigeons and still continues with the residual populations of rock doves, representing their endless contribution to the feral populations, at least until the dissolution of the gene pool of the primordial form of wild rock dove.
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