Winter Bird Assemblages in Rural and Urban Environments: A National Survey
Sparks, Tim H.
Nowakowski, Jacek J.
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Urban development has a marked effect on the ecological and behavioural traits of many living organisms, including birds. In this paper, we analysed differences in the numbers of wintering birds between rural and urban areas in Poland. We also analysed species richness and abundance in relation to longitude, latitude, human population size, and landscape structure. All these parameters were analysed using modern statistical techniques incorporating species detectability. We counted birds in 156 squares (0.25 km2 each) in December 2012 and again in January 2013 in locations in and around 26 urban areas across Poland (in each urban area we surveyed 3 squares and 3 squares in nearby rural areas). The influence of twelve potential environmental variables on species abundance and richness was assessed with Generalized Linear Mixed Models, Principal Components and Detrended Correspondence Analyses. Totals of 72 bird species and 89,710 individual birds were recorded in this study. On average (±SE) 13.3 ± 0.3 species and 288 ± 14 individuals were recorded in each square in each survey. A formal comparison of rural and urban areas revealed that 27 species had a significant preference; 17 to rural areas and 10 to urban areas. Moreover, overall abundance in urban areas was more than double that of rural areas. There was almost a complete separation of rural and urban bird communities. Significantly more birds and more bird species were recorded in January compared to December. We conclude that differences between rural and urban areas in terms of winter conditions and the availability of resources are reflected in different bird communities in the two environments.
- Artykuły naukowe 
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