Urban landscape matrix affects avian diversity in remnant vegetation fragments: Evidence from the Phoenix metropolitan region, USA

Research paper by Jennifer Litteral, Jianguo Wu

Indexed on: 05 Jul '12Published on: 05 Jul '12Published in: Urban Ecosystems


Biodiversity conservation in urban areas has become increasingly important as cities have expanded to cover larger proportions of landscapes across the world. The careful planning of habitat reserves within urbanized areas has the potential to make significant contributions to regional biodiversity. We surveyed the passerine community in 15 habitat reserves within the Phoenix metropolitan region and explored the relationships between community composition and urban land uses surrounding the reserves. Diversity of different guilds was affected in substantially different ways by reserve characteristics and surrounding urban land use. Guilds responded to land use at all three scales included in the study – 200 m, 1000 m and 2500 m. The responses of four guilds, synanthropic, non-synanthropic, insectivore and feeding generalist, were well predicted by the factors considered here. Reserve characteristics (area, shape, isolation), particularly area, had effects on all four of these guilds with non-synanthropic and insectivore species responding positively to area, while synanthropic and feeding generalist species responded negatively. Land use type surrounding the reserves had significant effects on all of these guilds, except for feeding generalists. High density, high diurnal activity land uses decreased diversity, while medium density, low diurnal activity uses increased the diversity of some guilds, particularly insectivores, probably by providing supplemental habitat. This study provides new evidence from an arid urban landscape that not only reserve characteristics, but also surrounding urban land use should be considered during conservation planning, especially if non-synanthropic or insectivore species are among the targeted species.