Title of Presentation

Comparison of Breeding Bird Diversity in Urban vs. Rural Areas in an Intensive Agricultural Landscape in Illinois, USA

Type of Submission

Synchronous Research Talk

Research Field

Biology

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Given Harper

Graduation Year

2021

Start Date

10-4-2021 10:00 AM

End Date

10-4-2021 10:20 AM

Abstract

Many North American bird species have experienced population declines over the past century due to human development of natural areas. Breeding birds have been forced to rely upon alternative habitats, including urban and agricultural areas. Recent studies have indicated that population increases of some bird species in the Midwestern U.S. have been associated with their use of urban habitat. However, few bird surveys have compared species diversity in urban and agricultural areas in central Illinois. We conducted a two-year breeding bird survey and habitat analysis in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois in 2019 and 2020 via a modified US Geological Survey (USGS) Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) protocol. These data were compared with up to six years of results from six rural BBS routes in central Illinois. We observed 79 species in our urban study area, including 16 USGS-designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). In contrast, 91 species and 19 SGCN were observed on the rural BBS routes. When pooled across survey years, the Shannon Diversity Index, a measure that accounts for species diversity and abundance, for Bloomington-Normal was higher than five of six nearby rural BBS routes and all BBS routes combined. This is likely explained by the amount of intensive row-crop agriculture within the rural BBS survey routes (74.97 to 92.05%). The density of urban woodland bird species was significantly higher at sites with taller trees and greater canopy cover. Housing density did not appear to affect the diversity or abundance of birds at urban sites. The results of this study suggest that urban areas can support a comparable number of breeding bird species as intensive agricultural landscapes.

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Apr 10th, 10:00 AM Apr 10th, 10:20 AM

Comparison of Breeding Bird Diversity in Urban vs. Rural Areas in an Intensive Agricultural Landscape in Illinois, USA

Many North American bird species have experienced population declines over the past century due to human development of natural areas. Breeding birds have been forced to rely upon alternative habitats, including urban and agricultural areas. Recent studies have indicated that population increases of some bird species in the Midwestern U.S. have been associated with their use of urban habitat. However, few bird surveys have compared species diversity in urban and agricultural areas in central Illinois. We conducted a two-year breeding bird survey and habitat analysis in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois in 2019 and 2020 via a modified US Geological Survey (USGS) Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) protocol. These data were compared with up to six years of results from six rural BBS routes in central Illinois. We observed 79 species in our urban study area, including 16 USGS-designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). In contrast, 91 species and 19 SGCN were observed on the rural BBS routes. When pooled across survey years, the Shannon Diversity Index, a measure that accounts for species diversity and abundance, for Bloomington-Normal was higher than five of six nearby rural BBS routes and all BBS routes combined. This is likely explained by the amount of intensive row-crop agriculture within the rural BBS survey routes (74.97 to 92.05%). The density of urban woodland bird species was significantly higher at sites with taller trees and greater canopy cover. Housing density did not appear to affect the diversity or abundance of birds at urban sites. The results of this study suggest that urban areas can support a comparable number of breeding bird species as intensive agricultural landscapes.