In recent past the world has witnessed a case of rapid urbanization and going by the estimates, the trend will not be shifting anytime soon (Loss 2578). The important role that the avian community plays in maintaining ecological balance cannot be disregarded. This raises the need to protect birds from all sought of threats to ensure the continuation of the world’s rich biodiversity.
A Large number of wildlife that is common in urban areas across the globe are birds. However, due to urban augmentation, their abundance and diversity have suffered a major decline. Unfortunately, there is still insufficient information on the relationship between urbanization the response of species to it. This is despite the many types of research that have been conducted across the globe with an aim of properly understanding the relationship.
Loss of habitats
Habitat loss is one of the major factors that is hugely associated with the shrink of biodiversity around the globe. Urbanization significantly affects the habitat of most birds due to different forms of pollution that are recurrent in the day to day life in this areas (Pautasso 426). This results in a major reduction and many times the complete loss of the habitat of the biotic communities. For example, woodland avian species and insectivore bird species are some of the most affected communities of birds by urbanization. These species have exhibited a very strong pattern of extinction from their native Eco regions where cities have emerged due to the loss of their habitat. This loss has been caused by the alteration of their native landscape. These species tend to avoid urban landscapes. Thus, urban and suburban sprawl has largely led to the loss of native bird species both at the regional and global levels (Ibanez-Alamo).
Introduction of non-native species
Development of cities is also a major cause of non-native species introduction. While sensitive native birds’ species have been forced out the cities by the major fragmentation and loss of their habitat, interestingly, more invader species have increasingly been sited in urban areas. Unfortunately, it does not mean that these urban invader species are safe from extinction. Most of them are equally not able to tolerate metropolitan and suburban conditions.
Reduction of available resources
The spike in urbanization has also caused a great diminish in available resources that can support the avian communities in these areas. This has been as a result of a major change in the landscape of these areas. Consequently, resources such as natural water sources have been largely interfered with. The cover of native vegetation has also been hugely affected as they are replaced by various structures. This has greatly affected the availability of food for the avian communities particularly since they feed on seeds, fruits and insects found on trees and other vegetation.
Negative effects on nesting options
Metropolitans and suburban areas have adversely affected the nesting options of the bird communities due to the number and even height of trees in these places as compared to those found in less disturbed areas (Porter 131). Consequently, due to the decreased nesting options for high nests species of birds has led to a major dwindle in their density.
Emergence of generalist species
Urban and suburban environments exhibit negative effects on the evolutionary uniqueness of avian communities. Consequently, this has led a biotic homogenization of most species hugely affecting the diversity of native species. Although the effects of the emergence of such a generalist species of birds are not yet clear (Morelli), ecological conservatives are hugely concerned with the effects of urbanization on the generic distinctiveness that have existed before in the avian communities.
Extinction of sensitive species
The constant swell in urban and suburban development in the world has been cited as one of the major challenges faced by ecological conservatives in their goal of conserving biodiversity in these areas (McKinney 883). The move by many nations of the world from being rural nations to cities has been a major cause of the witnessed increased extinction rates of native species of birds. The eventual outcome of this is that there is a likelihood of these sensitive natives’ species being replaced by immigrant species (Blair 459). Unfortunately, urbanization causes a more permanent disturbance of biodiversity in the affected areas compared to other major causes of disruption such as deforestation (McKinney 883).
A number of studies have shown that an upsurge in urban landscape leads to a decrease in the population and diversity of birds. Species of birds that are easily affected by ecological changes are easily lost from such landscapes. In order to prevent the loss of these sensitive species, there is a great need for urban planners to embrace nature-based solutions to the problem such as the introduction and proper maintenance of urban green spaces. This should include planting tree species that are native to the area to reduce the negative effects of urbanization on the population and diversity of birds. On the upshot, this implementation will promote the overall health of people living in this areas as well as preserving biodiversity. However, the most effective way of protecting bird species still remain conserving their natural habitats.
Blair, R. B. “Creating a homogeneous avifauna.” Avian ecology and conservation in an urbanizing world (2001): 459-486.
Ibanez-Alamo, J. D, et al. “Global loss of avian evolutionary uniqueness in urban areas.” Global Change Biology 23.8 (2016).
Loss, S.R et al. “Relationships between avian diversity, neighborhood age, income, and environmental characteristics of an urban landscape.” Biological Conservation 142.11 (2009): 2578–2585.
McKinney, M.J. & S.T.A. Pickett. “Urbanization, biodiversity, and conservation.” BioScience 52.10 (2002): 883-890.
Morelli, F. et al. “Evidence of evolutionary homogenization of birth communities in urban environments across Europe.” Global Ecology and Biogeography 25.11 (2016).
Pautasso, M. , et al. “Global macroecology of bird assemblages in urbanized and semi-natural ecosystems.” Global Ecology Biogeography (2011): 426-436.
Porter, E. E., et al. “Woody vegetation and canopy fragmentation along an urban gradient.” Urban Ecosystems 5 (2001): 131-151.