Assessing the ecological significance of linkage and connectivity for avian populations in urban areas

Rosenfeld, Emma Jane (2013). Assessing the ecological significance of linkage and connectivity for avian populations in urban areas. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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As urbanisation continues to fragment and degrade habitats there is a need to ensure that cities are managed to sustain ecosystem function and high biodiversity. Ecological theories suggest that areas with higher levels of functional connectivity sustain a more diverse avian population. By identifying the key habitat features that dictate the distribution and abundance of avian populations it is possible to inform planning policy to maximise biodiversity. Bird species presence and abundance across an urban gradient in Birmingham (UK) was surveyed at 70 sites over three sampling periods (between 2009 and 2010), in combination with a tree survey and digital analysis of land use. Functional connectivity was shown to increase the abundance of bird species and to ameliorate the impacts of urban development. Bird species were found to vary with their associations with vegetation structure and a proxy for invertebrate productivity. There was clear evidence for increasing native tree species in the urban matrix to support more bird species. Ringing data collected between 2008 and 2011 were used to examine bird movements through the city and the influence of habitat factors such as connectivity and built space in the matrix. Bird movements between ringing sites demonstrated the permeability of the city and the importance of connectivity in the landscape. This work showed that the composition of the matrix influences bird occupancy and turnover of sites. The novel findings presented in this thesis on the influence of the urban landscape on urban avian ecology should make an important contribution to urban conservation methods.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Big Lottery Fund, Open Air Laboratories
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history


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