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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 205–221 | Cite as

Bird species of conservation concern along urban gradients in Italy

  • Alberto SoraceEmail author
  • Marco Gustin
Original Paper

Abstract

The worldwide increase of urbanization requires better knowledge of its effects on biodiversity. We investigated the distribution of 41 breeding bird species of conservation concern along an urban gradient (centre, inner periphery, outer periphery, sparsely built up area) in Italian towns. We used data on the presence of bird species of conservation concern in each square of the grid of 27 urban atlases to obtain the frequency of each species in each sector. The frequency of species of conservation concern—for both passerines and non passerines—decreased in more urbanised sectors. An increased degree of urbanization is particularly unfavourable to the following groups of species of conservation concern: raptors (except Falco tinnunculus); galliforms; granivorous, ground-nesting passerines; and passerines of bush-shrub habitats. Our findings did not change substantially if we limited our analysis to small, intermediate or large towns. Our results confirm that urban areas are avoided by the majority of specialists and rare species. However, the frequency of aerial feeders and Jynx torquilla, Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Monticola solitarius and Muscicapa striata did not decrease in more urbanised sectors. Since these species include some whose main habitats are dwindling, urban areas might be a refuge for them. Conservation efforts in towns should preserve the conditions (presence of mature trees, habitat heterogeneity, availability of insects, suitable nesting sites in buildings) favouring these species.

Keywords

Urbanization Avian species Conservation Biological atlases Town size Italy 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank all people that collected data on urban atlases in particular we are indebted to S. Gellini, A. Nardo, S. Nissardi, A. Falci, M. Mastrorilli, B. Cignini, A. Meschini, and M. Zapparoli who gave us the unpublished data of some urban atlases. E. Borgo, L. Galli, L. Bordignon, A. Nardo gave useful information on the atlases that they cared. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento Ambiente e Connessa Prevenzione PrimariaNational Institute of HealthRomeItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento ConservazioneLIPUParmaItaly
  3. 3.SROPURomeItaly

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