Thesis

Bird richness and abundance as affected by social-ecological characteristics in an urban environment

Several studies have shown that products of urban development have an impact on the behavior and ecology of animals. Urban bird communities have been shown to have greater densities, but often lower diversity compared to their surrounding wildlands, however the underlying drivers behind this difference are not fully understood. This study focuses on three ecological factors mirrored in the natural environment: ambient (urban) noise, greenscapes (city parks), and wetscapes (groundwater recharging basins), as well as a fourth socioeconomic factor: property value. Within a GIS framework, we analyzed bird species richness (total number of species) and abundance (total number of birds) in the Fresno-Clovis Metropolitan Area (FCMA) to test how each of these are influenced by the socio-economic and environmental attributes in both the local and landscape levels. Local-level factors were shown to be initial key components in determining bird species richness and abundance, followed by landscape-level features. Further, property value was found to be a key component when comparing alternative multivariate models. Urban ecological research as well as policy and planning must take more multi-level, multivariate, landscape-based, and taxon specific approaches to understand and better manage urban spaces to maximize biodiversity.

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