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Forest bird communities across a gradient of urban development

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This study examined native bird communities in forest patches across a gradient of urbanization. We used field data and multivariate statistical techniques to examine the effects of landscape context, roads, traffic noise, and vegetation characteristics on bird community composition in the North Carolina Piedmont (U.S.A.). Landscape-level variables, particularly those related to urbanization, were most important in structuring forest bird communities. Specifically, we found that road density and amount of urban land cover were the best predictors of species composition. We found that urban and rural bird communities were quite distinct from each other. Rural communities had more long-distance migrants and forest interior species but species richness did not differ between the communities. Our results suggest some specific guidelines to target bird species of interest both inside and outside of urban areas. For example, if increasing numbers of migratory species is of primary concern, then conservation areas should be located outside of urban boundaries or in areas with low road density. However, if maximizing species richness is the focus, location of the conservation area may not be as important if the conservation area is surrounded by at least 50 m of forest habitat in all directions.

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We are grateful for a wonderful group of field assistants, including D. Horkavy, K. Jensen, B. Keighton, M. McKown, and M. Skakuj.

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Correspondence to Emily Minor.

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Minor, E., Urban, D. Forest bird communities across a gradient of urban development. Urban Ecosyst 13, 51–71 (2010).

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