Garden bird feeding predicts the structure of urban avian assemblages

Fuller, Richard A., Warren, Philip H., Armsworth, Paul R., Barbosa, Olga and Gaston, Kevin J. (2008) Garden bird feeding predicts the structure of urban avian assemblages. Diversity and Distributions, 14 1: 131-137. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2007.00439.x

Author Fuller, Richard A.
Warren, Philip H.
Armsworth, Paul R.
Barbosa, Olga
Gaston, Kevin J.
Title Garden bird feeding predicts the structure of urban avian assemblages
Journal name Diversity and Distributions   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1366-9516
Publication date 2008-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2007.00439.x
Volume 14
Issue 1
Start page 131
End page 137
Total pages 7
Place of publication Oxford, U.K.
Publisher Blackwell Scientific
Language eng
Subject 0602 Ecology
Formatted abstract
Households across the developed world cumulatively spend many millions of dollars annually on feeding garden birds. While beneficial effects on avian assemblages are frequently claimed, the relationships between levels of garden bird feeding and local avian populations are unknown. Using data from a large UK city, we show that both avian species richness and abundance vary across different socioeconomic neighbourhood types. We examined whether patterns in bird feeding could explain this variation. The density of bird feeding stations across the urban environment was strongly positively related to avian abundance, after controlling for differences in habitat availability. This effect was almost exclusively driven by the abundance of those species known to utilize garden feeding stations frequently. In contrast, the density of feeding stations had no effect on avian species richness. We also examined variation in the proportion of households in different communities that provide food for birds, a factor that is not correlated with feeder density. The prevalence of bird feeding across different neighbourhoods declined as socioeconomic deprivation increased, and increased with avian species richness and abundance. Our results suggest that the provision of supplementary food for birds by multiple landowners across a city can impact the status of urban bird populations. The potential for harnessing these actions for conservation needs to be explored.
© 2007 The Authors
Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Keyword Garden birds
Human interactions
Urban biodiversity
Supplementary feeding
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code

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Created: Thu, 28 Jan 2010, 13:07:48 EST by Gerald Martin on behalf of Faculty of Science