In this study an extensive data set from the urban conurbation of Bristol, was used to: (1) identify the number of distinct bird communities present across the city; (2) quantify the macro-habitat associations of these different communities using GIS; investigate how (3) species diversity and (4) total bird abundance vary within each community; and (5) investigate how community composition changes in relation to the relative abundance of species categorized according to their body mass and feeding niche.
Breeding density data for 70 species of birds in the metropolitan area of Bristol were subjected to de-trended correspondence analysis to identify the number of different communities present and their indicator species. These data were then used to identify patterns of habitat association with each community and differences in species richness and total bird density. Land-use data for 16 habitat types at 1 km sq resolution were derived from the Ordnance Survey MasterMap® data collection.
Three communities were identified: a rural community associated with woodland, managed grassland and inland water; a suburban community associated with buildings and residential gardens; and an intermediate community that shared some of these habitat characteristics. Species richness, but not total bird abundance, was lowest in the suburban community.
The diversity of species in urban areas appears to be most dependent upon the availability of patches of natural and semi-natural habitats. Residential gardens support fewer species, but those species that are present may be found at high densities.
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