The influence of housing growth on bird communities in the Northeast U.S. from 1970 to 2000.
Lepczyk, Christopher*,1, Pidgeon, Anna1, Radeloff, Volker1, Flather, Curtis2, Hammer, Roger2, 1 Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Madison, WI, USA2 USDA Forest Service, Fort Collins, CO, USA
ABSTRACT- In recent decades the Northeast United States has experienced dramatic housing development, both at the fringe of cities and in rural areas rich in amenities. Because housing density is a crucial aspect of habitat quality for birds, it is imperative to understand the effect housing growth is having on breeding birds. Our goal was to estimate the effect of housing growth on bird communities across the ecoregions of the Northeast U.S. from 1970 to 2000. We used a time series of housing density at a fine spatial resolution derived from the U.S. decennial Census coupled with bird abundance and richness data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). Independent variables were housing density, housing growth (both absolute and percent), and land cover at three spatial scales. Total species richness increased over the 30-year period, as did the number of houses suggesting that colonization rates have exceeded extinction rates. Despite these parallel trends, there was a weak negative relationship between native richness and housing density, whereas richness of exotic birds was positively related to housing growth. At the scale of the Northeast Region, species composition of most guilds has not changed, but at finer scales, community turnover is apparent in the areas of highest housing density. Because urbanization and sprawl are expected to continue, our findings portend significant changes to future bird community composition.
Key words: housing development, BBS, habitat fragmentation, bird diversity
All materials copyright The Ecological Society of America (ESA), and may not be used without written permission.