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Avian Community Structure in Urban Areas CHRISTOPHER GRAN What do we know? Birds do thrive in urban environments. Residential development in urban and suburban settings is a major cause of habitat change in avian communities. How does Urbanization Effect bird Species… Most studies confirm bird density and species abundance increases with urbanization. Number of species and abundance decrease with increasing urbanization. & Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis Disturbance disrupts those species whose superior competitive abilities achieve dominance in a community. If disturbance is too infrequent, those species that are good competitors will dominate the community. • Urban Avoiders • UrbanExploiters • Urban Adapters Community Types Behavioral flexibility Exploit food resources but can supplement diet. Less vulnerable to habitat deterioration and loss Less competitive species co-exist Urban Adapter (Generalists) American Robin Habitat: Towns, gardens, agricultural lands and open woodlands Diet: Seeds, fruits, insects, berries European Starling Habitat: Suburban areas, farmlands, ranches, and cities Diet: Seeds, fruits, and insects Supplement Diet Can be insectivorous High nesters Least species variety Urban Exploiter (Synanthropes) House Sparrow Habitat: Cities, towns, agricultural areas Diet: Grains, seeds, discarded food Rock Pigeon Habitat: Cities, highly urban areas, agricultural lands, open shrub Diet: Discarded food and offerings of birdseed Peregrine Falcon Habitat: (huge range) Tundra, savannas, coasts, mountains, and tall buildings Diet: Rodents, pigeons, squirrels, insects Pressures on urban populations Cats In Wisconsin alone, rural cats are estimated to kill between 8 million and 219 million birds annually. – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Homogenized urban environments Disease Pollution Noise Pollution Pesticides Windows Efforts Maintain and increase protected and ecologically sensitive areas for biodiversity -greenspace preservation Backyard foliage Keep cats indoors -bells do help Bird Feeders -keep clean -away from windows Conclusion Species richness is surprisingly close to human dominated environments. Extensive variety and range of avian species provides excellent opportunities for studies of adaptation. Climate change effects on avian communities? Sources Blair, Robert B. “Land Use and Avian Species Diversity Along an Urban Gradient.” Ecological Applications. The Ecological Society of America, May 1996. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. Blair, Robert B, and Elizabeth M. Johnson. “Suburban Habitats and Their Role for Birds in the Urban Rural Habitat Network.” Landscape Ecology. Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, 30 Sep. 2008. Web. 12 Nov. 2014 Evans, Karl L, et al. “What makes an Urban Bird?” Global Change Biology. Blackwell Publishing. 2011. Web 14 Nov. 2014 Francis, Clinton D, et al. “Noise Pollution Changes Avian Communities and Species Interactions.” Current Biology. Elsevier Ltd, 25 Aug. 2009. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. Lepczyk, Christopher, et al. “Land Owners and Cat Predation Across Rural to Urban Landscapes.” Biological Conservation. Elsevier Ltd. 20 Feb 2003. Web. 10 Nov. 2014 “Migratory Bird Program.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 11 April 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. Wood, Eric M, et al. “Housing Development Erodes Avain Community Structures in U.S. Protected Areas.” Ecological Applications. The Ecological Society of America, 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.