The effects of local and landscape habitat attributes on bird diversity in urban greenspaces

Full citation: 
Callaghan, C. T., R. E. Major, M. B. Lyons, J. M. Martin, and R. T. Kingsford. 2018. The effects of local and landscape habitat attributes on bird diversity in urban greenspaces. Ecosphere 9(7):e02347. 10.1002/ecs2.2347
Author/s associated with the CES: 
Corey Callaghan
Mitchell Lyons
Richard Kingsford


Contrasting trajectories of biodiversity loss and urban expansion make it imperative to understand biodiversity persistence in cities. Size‐, local‐, and landscape‐level habitat factors of greenspaces in cities may be critical for future design and management of urban greenspaces in conserving bird biodiversity. Most current understanding of bird communities in cities has come from disparate analyses of single cities, over relatively short time periods, producing limited understanding of processes and characteristics of bird patterns for improved biodiversity management of the world's cities. We analyzed bird biodiversity in 112 urban greenspaces from 51 cities across eight countries, using eBird, a broadscale citizen science project. Species richness and Shannon diversity were used as response variables, while percent tree cover, percent water cover, and vegetation index were used as habitat predictor variables at both a landscape (5 and 25 km radius) and local‐scale level (specific to an individual greenspace) in the modeling process, retrieved using Google Earth Engine. Area of a greenspace was the most important predictor of bird biodiversity, underlining the critical importance of habitat area as the most important factor for increasing bird biodiversity and mitigating loss from urbanization. Surprisingly, distance from the city center and distance from the coast were not significantly related to bird biodiversity. Landscape‐scale habitat predictors were less related to bird biodiversity than local‐scale habitat predictors. Ultimately, bird biodiversity loss could be mitigated by protecting and developing large greenspaces with varied habitat in the world's cities.


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