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Bird species diversity in the greater Phoenix area, Arizona.
Katti, Madhusudan1, Shochat, Eyal1, 1
ABSTRACT- Previous studies on breeding bird communities in urban environments showed that though urban habitats support higher bird densities than surrounding natural habitats, they reduce species diversity, and are occupied by mostly abundant commensal species. We tested whether the same patterns exist during the non-breeding season, in the greater Phoenix area, using population monitoring data from the Central Arizona - Phoenix LTER project. During October-November 2000 we counted non-breeding birds in 51 sites covering four habitats: desert (15 sites), agricultural (7), riparian (11) and urban (18). Average bird abundance differed significantly between habitats, with the highest abundance in urban and the lowest in desert habitat. We also found significant differences in average species richness between habitats, with the highest species richness in riparian and lowest in desert habitat. Total species richness was highest in riparian habitat and lowest in desert. We used Fisher's Alpha index for species diversity to control for differences in sample size. We found that species diversity was highest in riparian and lowest in urban habitat. Species diversity in desert was similar to agricultural habitat, but not species composition. In urban habitat, 55% of all birds belong to 4 alien invader species, 35% to 21 widespread native species, and 10% to 9 Sonoran species. We suggest that to maintain native bird species diversity, urban development needs to preserve the existing range of habitats in a relatively intact state.
KEY WORDS: urban, community, desert, LTER