Avian spatial segregation at edges and interiors of urban parks in Madrid, Spain

Abstract

Few studies have investigated the effects of urban landscape composition on avian habitat selection at urban-park edges. I assessed how the number of species, density of guilds, and density of individual species varied between edge and interior habitats in six large wooded parks in Madrid (Spain), and analysed such patterns in relation to habitat structure, car traffic, and pedestrian traffic. Few differences in habitat structure were found; whereas car and pedestrian traffic were significantly higher at edges. Species foraging in trees and on the ground, and nesting in trees and in tree cavities had lower numbers and breeding densities at edges, probably as a result of the disturbance from traffic noise and pedestrians. Species highly habituated to human activities (House Sparrows Passer domesticus and Rock Doves Columba livia) displayed opposite patterns, with higher breeding densities at urban-park edges, probably due to their higher foraging opportunities (refuse, people leftovers, deliberate feeding) and nest site availability in adjacent buildings. Urbanisation sprawl may increase the prevalence of edge specialists and diminish the representation of species with specific habitat requirements.

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