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Title: Systematic temporal patterns in the relationship between housing development and forest bird biodiversity

Author: Pidgeon, Anna M.; Flather, Curtis H.; Radeloff, Volker C.; Lepczyk, Christopher A.; Keuler, Nicholas S.; Wood, Eric M.; Stewart, Susan I.; Hammer, Roger B.;

Date: 2014

Source: Conservation Biology. 28(5): 1291-1301.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: As people encroach increasingly on natural areas, one question is how this affects avian biodiversity. The answer to this is partly scale-dependent. At broad scales, human populations and biodiversity concentrate in the same areas and are positively associated, but at local scales people and biodiversity are negatively associated with biodiversity. We investigated whether there is also a systematic temporal trend in the relationship between bird biodiversity and housing development. We used linear regression to examine associations between forest bird species richness and housing growth in the conterminous United States over 30 years. Our data sources were the North American Breeding Bird Survey and the 2000 decennial U.S. Census. In the 9 largest forested ecoregions, housing density increased continually over time. Across the conterminous United States, the association between bird species richness and housing density was positive for virtually all guilds except ground nesting birds. We found a systematic trajectory of declining bird species richness as housing increased through time. In more recently developed ecoregions, where housing density was still low, the association with bird species richness was neutral or positive. In ecoregions that were developed earlier and where housing density was highest, the association of housing density with bird species richness for most guilds was negative and grew stronger with advancing decades. We propose that in general the relationship between human settlement and biodiversity over time unfolds as a 2-phase process. The first phase is apparently innocuous; associations are positive due to coincidence of low-density housing with high biodiversity. The second phase is highly detrimental to biodiversity, and increases in housing density are associated with biodiversity losses. The long-term effect on biodiversity depends on the final housing density. This general pattern can help unify our understanding of the relationship of human encroachment and biodiversity response.

Keywords: animals, birds, forest, functional groups, housing, North America, temporal pattern, woodland

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Pidgeon, Anna M.; Flather, Curtis H.; Radeloff, Volker C.; Lepczyk, Christopher A.; Keuler, Nicholas S.; Wood, Eric M.; Stewart, Susan I.; Hammer, Roger B. 2014. Systematic temporal patterns in the relationship between housing development and forest bird biodiversity. Conservation Biology. 28(5): 1291-1301.

 


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