The effects of changing water availability on bird communities in a California urban landscape

As California continues to persist in a state of severe drought, residents of the Fresno Clovis Metropolitan Area (FCMA) are slowly making changes to reduce their water usage and to be conscious of how this resource is utilized in their landscape. Since the advent of water metering in 2013 and the Governor’s declaration of California’s state of emergency, it is unknown how the response of our wildlife populations will fare, in particular, avian populations. Several studies have indicated that a long-term drought and the reduction of water availability can have adverse effects on the avian communities within a city. A pre-metering (2008) to post-metering (2015) comparison was conducted using multivariate analyses to determine how the landscape changed over time and if avian communities have responded to the “effective drought” that the FCMA is experiencing. Since pre-metering, bird abundance and the species richness of the FCMA has decreased and new habitat variables are now shown to predict bird species richness and abundance. Other essential aspects of the urban landscape that have been shown to make an impact on the bird communities had a negative response to certain socio-economic variables and there being no effect on foraging guilds in relation to certain irrigation intensities as reported in pre-metering years.