The relationship between breeding bird community structure in urban forest patches and the human-mediated resources in the surrounding residential matrix
Carlson, Chrissa Erin
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Urban forest patches function as habitat fragments within a landscape matrix dominated by human development. Features of both the forest patch itself and the surrounding landscape matrix influence avian habitat selection. In residential areas, the resource-base available to forest birds is augmented by the decisions of individual homeowners. Breeding bird communities in 15 small forest patches (2-8 ha) in Baltimore, Maryland were surveyed during the 2005 breeding season. An information-theoretic approach was used to select models that explain avian diversity in these patches, including variables describing forest patch characteristics, land-cover in the surrounding neighborhoods, and the availability of feeders, baths, and nest boxes provided by neighborhood residents. Abundant tree cover surrounding the forest patches increased the number of species selecting the forest patch as breeding habitat. This was observed within a narrow buffer from the forest edge, indicating that individual land-owners can manage their property to enhance adjacent forest habitats.