Bird data : Brazil, Porto Alegre
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Cities are highly modified environments in which the only areas that resemble natural landscapes are urban parks with low human population density. Attempts are frequently made to maintain high bird diversity in cities for aesthetic or educational reasons. However, it remains unclear whether local site characteristics are important in determining bird assemblage composition or whether simplification of the assemblage is an inevitable consequence of the changes associated with human population density. From May 1998 to December 1999, we undertook bird counts at 521 points in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil. Our main goal was to understand the pattern of distribution of the bird species richness and density within the city and determine which variables most affect species assemblages. We recorded 132 species belonging to 43 families that are common in Rio Grande do Sul and obtained quantitative data on 121 species in survey sites. The two most abundant species (House Sparrow, Passer domesticus and Rock dove, Columba livia) were exotics. Analysis based on a reduced subset of 134 points surveyed in spring/early summer suggested that there was a North–south gradient in assemblage structure. Variation in assemblage structure was also affected by the number of trees, urban noise and human population density. However, human population density had a much smaller effect on richness and assemblage structure than variables subject to management, such as tree density and noise levels. These results suggest that complex communities may be maintained in densely populated urban areas of sub-tropical South-America given adequate urban planning.
Fontana CS, Burger MI, Magnusson WE. 2011. Bird diversity in a subtropical South American City: effects of noise levels, arborisation and human population density. Urban Ecosyst 14, 341-360.