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How would size, age, human disturbance, and vegetation structure affect bird communities of urban parks in different seasons?

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Abstract

Parks are diversity hotspots in cities, and are generalized isolated “islands” in urban landscapes. However, there is a paucity of information on the avian community structure of urban parks in big cities in Southeast Asia, including Hong Kong which has more than 7 million people. This study therefore aimed to assess the influences of park attributes, human disturbance, and vegetation structure on species richness, diversity, total density, and species groups of breeding and wintering bird communities in Hong Kong. Bird communities of 30 parks were censused four times each season in 2010–2011 using point counting. Species richness and diversity were affected by park size in both seasons, and larger parks supported more species and higher diversity. In addition, species richness of wintering season was negatively affected by visitor rate. Total bird density increased with visitor rate, but only in the breeding season. Noise did not have significant impacts on species richness, diversity, and total density. Regarding the responses of species groups, number of resident species increased with park size in both seasons. Migrants, insectivores, and insectivore–frugivores were positively affected by park size, but negatively by visitor rate in the wintering season. However, omnivores in the breeding season increased with both park size and visitor rate. Granivores was the only feeding guild which was positively affected by noise and negatively by foliage height diversity in the wintering season. In conclusion, park size and visitor rate affected bird community structure, and different species groups had different responses to habitat factors in the two seasons.

Zusammenfassung

Wie beeinflussen Flächengröße, Alter der Anlage, Störungen durch Menschen und die Vegetationsstruktur Vogelgemeinschaften in städtischen Parks zu verschiedenen Jahreszeiten?

In Städten stellen Parks Diversitäts-Hotspots dar und bilden allgemein isolierte “Inseln” in der urbanen Landschaft. Allerdings gibt es nur wenige Informationen über die Struktur von Vogelgemeinschaften urbaner Parks in Großstädten Südostasiens, wie zum Beispiel Hongkong, wo mehr als sieben Millionen Menschen leben. Daher war das Ziel dieser Studie, den Einfluss der Parkeigenschaften sowie der Störungen durch Menschen und der Vegetationsstruktur auf Artenreichtum, Diversität, Gesamtvogeldichte und die einzelnen Vogelgilden bei Brutvögeln und Wintergästen in Hongkong zu untersuchen. Die Vogelgemeinschaften von 30 Parks wurden 2010–2011 zu jeder der beiden Jahreszeiten viermal mittels Punktzählung erfasst. Artenreichtum und Diversität wurden zu beiden Jahreszeiten durch die Parkgröße beeinflusst, und größere Parks beherbergten mehr Arten und eine höhere Diversität. Zusätzlich wirkte sich die Besucherzahl im Winter negativ auf den Artenreichtum aus. Die Gesamtvogeldichte nahm mit wachsender Besucherzahl zu, allerdings nur zur Brutzeit. Lärm hatte weder auf Artenreichtum, Diversität noch auf die Gesamtvogeldichte einen signifikanten Einfluss. Hinsichtlich der Reaktionen einzelner Vogelgruppen war festzustellen, dass die Anzahl vorkommender Vogelarten zu beiden Jahreszeiten mit der Parkgröße anstieg. Auf Zugvögel, Insektenfresser und Insekten-Fruchtfresser hatte die Parkgröße im Winter einen positiven Einfluss, die Besucherzahl dagegen einen negativen. Zur Brutzeit stieg der Anteil der Allesfresser jedoch sowohl mit der Parkgröße als auch mit der Besucherzahl an. Körnerfresser reagierten im Winter als einzige Nahrungsgilde positiv auf Lärm bzw. negativ auf das Belaubungsprofil. Dies lässt den Schluss zu, dass Parkgröße und Besucherzahl die Struktur von Vogelgemeinschaften beeinflussen und dass verschiedene Artengruppen zu den beiden Jahreszeiten unterschiedlich auf Habitatfaktoren reagieren.

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Acknowledgments

We deeply thank Ben Yeung, Hao Zhang and Klinsmann Cheung who helped in experimental design and data collection. We also thank Dr Jukka Jokimäki, the other anonymous reviewer and editors of Journal of Ornithology for their invaluable comments on this manuscript.

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Correspondence to L. M. Chu.

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Communicated by T. Gottschalk.

Appendix

Appendix

See Table 7.

Table 7 Bird species observed in the 30 urban parks in Hong Kong in 2010–2011, and their classification into each species group with respect to seasonal status and food type

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Zhou, D., Chu, L.M. How would size, age, human disturbance, and vegetation structure affect bird communities of urban parks in different seasons?. J Ornithol 153, 1101–1112 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-012-0839-x

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