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04.07.2019

Cemeteries and biodiversity conservation in cities: how do landscape and patch-level attributes influence bird diversity in urban park cemeteries?

Zeitschrift:
Urban Ecosystems
Autoren:
Nélida R. Villaseñor, Martín A. H. Escobar

Abstract

Cemeteries can help conserve biodiversity in urban landscapes, but their capacity to support native species is likely to be influenced by variables at different spatial scales. There is growing evidence on how landscape and patch-level attributes influence biodiversity in urban parks. However, there is limited evidence about cemeteries. Park cemeteries are dominated by vegetation because they are managed to simulate traditional parks, and thus, could contribute to the conservation of native fauna in cities. We present the first study on how patch variables (cemetery size and vegetation density) and landscape variables (vegetation cover and road density within 1 km) influence the richness and abundance of native birds in urban park cemeteries. During summer and autumn, we surveyed birds in park cemeteries in the Mediterranean city of Santiago, Chile – a large Latin American city located in a biodiversity hotspot. We recorded 42 bird species (38 native and 4 exotic). We found that cemeteries surrounded by high vegetation cover supported more native birds, whereas cemeteries surrounded by high road density supported low native bird abundance. We also found a seasonal effect: cemeteries supported more individuals of native birds in autumn than in summer, probably due to birds migrating to our study area from higher latitude, altitude, and surrounding environments, in their search for milder weather conditions. Our findings demonstrate that park cemeteries host a variety of native birds, which contributes to maintain biodiversity in urban landscapes. However, the surrounding landscape influences their capacity to support native birds and to conserve biodiversity in cities.

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