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How to improve urban greenspace for woodland birds: site and local-scale determinants of bird species richness

Abstract

Wooded habitats represent hotspots of urban biodiversity, however, urban development imposes pressure on biota in these refuges. Identification of the most influential habitat attributes and the role of local urban characteristics is crucial for proper decisions on management practices supporting biodiversity. We aimed to identify well manageable fine-scale habitat attributes to suggest specific, feasible and affordable management recommendations for green space in cities. We analysed species richness of woodland-associated bird communities and incidence of individual species at 290 sites in a wide variety of green areas scattered across the city of Prague, Czech Republic. Generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) and regression tree analyses were used to identify site-scale (100 m radius sampling sites) and local-scale (200 m and 500 m radius plots) habitat attributes shaping the bird communities at individual sites. Logistic regression was used to assess the responses of individual species to habitat characteristics. Our results imply that at the site scale, management practices should focus on maintenance and promoting species-diverse and older tree stands, with a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees. Water-bodies and accompanying riparian habitats should be maintained and carefully managed to preserve high-quality remnants of natural vegetation. Presence of a few old trees (about 12 % of tree cover with DBH > 50 cm) or small urban standing water and watercourses enrich the bird community by at least two species. Species richness of woodland avifauna at particular sites is further supported by the total amount of tree cover in the surroundings, including scattered greenery of public spaces and private gardens. We conclude that proper management at site scale has the potential to increase biodiversity of the urban environment.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Tomáš Albrecht and Vojtěch Jarošík for their help with statistical procedures. The authors also wish to thank three anonymous referees for constructive comments on earlier draft of this paper. The study was supported by institutional resources of Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Ondřej Sedláček.

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Ferenc, M., Sedláček, O. & Fuchs, R. How to improve urban greenspace for woodland birds: site and local-scale determinants of bird species richness. Urban Ecosyst 17, 625–640 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-013-0328-x

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Keywords

  • Regression trees
  • City
  • Bird biodiversity
  • Vegetation structure
  • Urban green areas