Birds at the urban fringe: avian community shifts in different peri-urban ecotones of a megacity

Abstract

Cities can be regionalized in intra-urban and peri-urban areas. The space between urban areas and adjacent systems represents an ecological transition that often acts as a semi-permeable biological filter. In this study, we assessed changes in avian community species richness, density, and composition at different peri-urban ecotones (i.e., urban-croplands, urban-grasslands, urban-shrublands) of northeastern Mexico City. Species richness was lower in the urban component of urban-grassland and urban-shrubland ecotones, while bird densities were higher in the urban components of the urban-grassland and urban-shrubland peri-urban ecotones, mainly due to the high number of urban exploiter species. However, the urban-cropland peri-urban ecotone exhibited a different pattern, with similar low bird species richness and density values between both components (urban and non-urban). A species composition analysis revealed that urban bird communities were not influenced by adjacent non-urban habitats, since the urban components of peri-urban ecotones were more similar among them than in relation to the rest of non-urban components. In summary, results of this study show that urbanization can represent an important biological filter for birds, often reducing species richness and homogenizing avian communities at local scales. As the environmental variables determining ecological processes related to the semi-permeable filter effect that urban areas pose to biodiversity might depend on urban habitats, regions, and spatial scales, further studies are needed to fully understand this phenomenon.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the General Coordination for the Ecological Conservation of the State of Mexico, the Administration Office of the “Sierra de Guadalupe” Park, and Aarón Torrijos Solís for their kind support during fieldwork. We are grateful to Roberto Perezdíaz and Sarah Heiberg for their kind support with the grammar edition of this manuscript. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments, as they improved the quality and clarity of our work.

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Correspondence to Rubén Ortega-Álvarez.

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Puga-Caballero, A., MacGregor-Fors, I. & Ortega-Álvarez, R. Birds at the urban fringe: avian community shifts in different peri-urban ecotones of a megacity. Ecol Res 29, 619–628 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-014-1145-2

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Keywords

  • Biological homogenization
  • Croplands
  • Mexico City
  • Urban sprawl
  • Urban ecology