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Publication Information

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Title: Characteristics of urban woodlands affecting breeding bird diversity and abundance

Author: Tilghman, N.G.;

Date: 1987

Source: Landscape and Urban Planning. 14: 481-495

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication


Breeding bird communities were studied in 32 forest islands surrounded by urban development. These isolated woodlands in Springfield, Massachusetts, provided breeding habitats for a wider variety of birds (77 species) than previously described for other urban habitats (e.g. four times as many species as found in urban residential areas in the same city in a previous study). The size of the woodland was the primary influence on bird diversity in these wood-lands, explaining 79 and 75% of the variation in total species richness and the Shan- non-Weaver index of bird species diversity, respectively. Other woodland characteristics that played a significant role in determining the variety of bird species were the density of buildings in the area immediately adjacent to the woods, density of shrubs within the woods, distance to the nearest trail, distance to the nearest body of water and average canopy height. Percentage of coniferous tree cover was the most important variable in explaining the variation in the number of birds detected at a sampling point (R2=0.26). Information on the distance to the nearest trail, distance to the nearest body of water and distance to the nearest extensive forest area were also important in determining the number of bird sightings. The size of the woodland (1-69 ha) played an important role in the distribution of individual bird species. About half of all species observed in these wood-lands were more commonly found in the larger woods (43-69 ha). Eight species were more abundant in the smallest woodlands (1-5 ha), and a few others were apparently insensitive to the size of the woodland. Specific recommendations are made to improve the design and management of urban woodlands for enrichment of the avifauna within a city.

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Tilghman, N.G. 1987. Characteristics of urban woodlands affecting breeding bird diversity and abundance. Landscape and Urban Planning. 14: 481-495.


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