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Volume 6, Issue 2 p. 506-519

Land Use and Avian Species Diversity Along an Urban Gradient

First published: 01 May 1996
Citations: 982


I examined the distribution and abundance of bird species across an urban gradient, and concomitant changes in community structure, by censuring summer resident bird populations at six sites in Santa Clara County, California (all former oak woodlands). These sites represented a gradient of urban land use that ranged from relatively undisturbed to highly developed, and included a biological preserve, recreational area, golf course, residential neighborhood, office park, and business district. The composition of the bird community shifted from predominantly native species in the undisturbed area to invasive and exotic species in the business district. Species richness, Shannon diversity, and bird biomass peaked at moderately disturbed sites. One or more species reached maximal densities in each of the sites, and some species were restricted to a given site. The predevelopment bird species (assumed to be those found at the most undisturbed site) dropped out gradually as the sites became more urban. These patterns were significantly related to shifts in habitat structure that occurred along the gradient, as determined by canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) using the environmental variables of percent land covered by pavement, buildings, lawn, grasslands, and trees or shrubs. I compared each formal site to four additional sites with similar levels of development within a two-country area to verify that the bird communities at the formal study sites were representative of their land use category.