The bird assemblage of the darwin region (Australia): What is the effect of twenty years of increasing urbanisation?

Sarah E. Fischer, Andrew C. Edwards, Patrice Weber, Stephen T. Garnett, Timothy G. Whiteside

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Abstract

There has been considerable urban development in the Darwin region over the last twenty years; as for most fauna in Australia since colonisation, the potential effects to the bird assemblage were expected to be disastrous. To provide a broad overview of changes, bird survey data from 1998 and 2018 were extracted from BirdLife Australia’s ‘Atlas of Australian Birds’ database. A total of 165 species were categorised into primary food source feeding guilds and levels of food specialisation. This was integrated into ArcGIS along with land use change mapping from 1998 and 2018 to investigate its impact on bird assemblages. There was no significant change in overall species numbers when all sites were analysed. However, when sites were separated into those with increased urbanisation or decreased greenspace, several sites showed a significant change in the number of species. For the majority of species, analysis of primary food types found no difference in the proportion of species within the assemblages between 1998 and 2018, regardless of the level of urbanisation or greenspace; the exception being those species that primarily feed on insects, where the difference was just significant. An analysis using bird community data sorted into levels of food specialisation also found no difference between 1998 and 2018 despite habitat changes. These findings suggest that although there has been considerable urban development in the Darwin region, bird communities are remaining relatively stable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number294
Number of pages18
JournalDiversity
Volume13
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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