Monday, 27 August 2012

Native Landscaping in Urban Areas Can Help Native Birds

ScienceDaily (Aug. 22, 2012) — A recent study of residential landscape types and native bird communities in Phoenix, Ariz., led by a University of Massachusetts Amherst urban ecologist suggests that yards mimicking native vegetation and wildlands offer birds "mini refuges," helping to offset the loss of biodiversity in cities and supporting birds better than traditional grass lawns and non-native plantings.

The study, led by Susannah Lerman with her advisor Paige Warren at UMass Amherst, and Hilary Gan and Eyal Shochat at Arizona State University, is one of the first to use quantitative measures and a systematic approach, with 24-hour video monitoring, to assess and compare foraging behavior of common backyard birds in yards in Phoenix, at the northern edge of the Sonoran Desert. It appears in the current issue of PLOS ONE.

It is also one of the first to conduct experiments to compare different types of a single urban landscape form (residential yards), Lerman says. Overall, the study found that desert-like, "xeric" yards had a more even bird community and superior habitat compared to moist, or "mesic," grass lawns in the Phoenix area.


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