Indexed on: 12 Jul '12Published on: 12 Jul '12Published in: Urban Ecosystems
Urban riparian habitats are potentially important resources for native birds in arid ecosystems. Most studies have assessed the value of urban riparian habitat in terms of vegetation and natural resources; however, the surrounding land use and infrastructure may determine the viability of urban habitat. We studied the impact of urban structure, the combination of land use, infrastructure and vegetation variables that work together to shape the urban environment, on avian riparian habitat in the Truckee Meadows, Nevada, USA. Land use and infrastructure explained avian species richness and abundance better than local vegetation alone, but community resemblance was more strongly correlated to vegetation. Avian species guilds responded differentially to surrounding land use, suggesting there may be a functional difference between land use types. The best models for bird diversity used urban structure (both land use and vegetation) to describe potential habitat. Urban structure describes urban habitat in ways that vegetation variables alone cannot. Studies that ignore land use and infrastructure and other socioeconomic variables are likely missing key functional differences within urban ecosystems, and may miss the potential for compatible development that encourages both biodiversity and urban growth.