Forest bird communities across a gradient of human development
Emily Minor and Dean Urban

Loss and alteration of native habitat is occurring at a rapid pace and species differ in their ability to adapt to these changes. This study examined forest bird communities across a gradient of human development in order to better understand the response of native species. We used field data and multivariate statistical techniques to examine the effects of landscape context, roads, traffic noise, and vegetation characteristics on bird community composition in the North Carolina Piedmont (U.S.A.). Landscape-level variables, particularly those related to urbanization, were most important in structuring forest bird communities. In contrast to the urbanization gradient, the gradient in agricultural land cover across the study area did not show any effect on bird community composition. Our analyses identified three different bird communities across the study area: an urban bird community, a rural bird community, and a mixed bird community. Urban and rural communities were quite distinct from each other, while mixed communities represented an intermediate stage between the two extremes. Rural communities had more species of conservation concern, long-distance migrants, and forest interior species, but species richness did not differ between the communities. Our results suggest some specific guidelines to target bird species of interest both inside and outside of urban areas.


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