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The UK conurbation of Birmingham and the Black Country has recently been surveyed for a new Flora, on the basis of a 1 km square grid. The present paper uses the data to describe the ecological network of the conurbation. The total number of taxa per 1 km squares is shown to be moderately but significantly correlated, and the number of native taxa more strongly correlated, with the area of the previously-established network of protected sites. Nevertheless coincidence maps of total numbers or numbers of native species per 1 km square give only poor representations of the ecological network compared with maps of protected sites. Axiophytes are defined as plant species 90% restricted to conservation habitats and recorded in fewer than 25% of 2km × 2km squares in a county. Applying the concept to 1 km squares in Birmingham and the Black Country creates a list of 256 axiophytes. Numbers of axiophytes are shown to be more strongly correlated with areas of protected sites than total taxa or native taxa and a coincidence map of the axiophytes is found to provide a useful quantitative assessment of the ecological network. Maps of axiophytes are used to divide the network into core and linking areas and their use in consolidating and improving the botanical ecological network is explored.
There is a lack of data on the population densities of birds breeding in a mosaic of typical urbanized habitats. This study was undertaken to partly fulfil this gap in our knowledge. Counts were conducted in 2008 by means of simplified territory mapping method in a fragment (1197 ha) of a large Central European city (Wrocław, SW Poland). In total, 50 bird species were breeding in the study area in 2008. The House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Common Swift Apus apus and Rock Dove comprised about 3/5 of all breeding pairs. The other group of species, each one with a density between 6 and 13 pairs per 100 ha, included seven species, namely the Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, Greenfinch, Carduelis chloris, House Martin, Delichon urbica, Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus, Great Tit, Parus major, Blue Tit, Parus caeruleus, and Jackdaw, Corvus monedula. They comprised together about 1/5. The remaining 40 species nested in a density between 0.1 and 3.5 pairs per 100 ha. The most numerous feeding guild were granivores (53.8%) and insectivores (37.9 %). Birds nesting on buildings comprised together 74 % of all breeding pairs. For a few species (Luscinia megarhynchos, Saxicola torquata, Corvus cornix and Turdus pilaris) an increase in their numbers in the last three decades has been evidenced.
In late autumn 2004, 160 dreys were found in all parks in Wroclaw (N=21 parks), i.e. 2.8 dreys per 10 ha. In the same period, 145 squirrels, grouped in 69 families, were counted in all these parks (1.23 families per 10 ha). The mean group size (including records of single squirrels) was 1.93 (SD = 1.04; N = 157). The density estimate based on this (number of dreys/mean number of dreys per group) shall be 1.40 families per 10 ha, therefore close to the value based on the number of squirrels counted. Squirrels were most common (64% of all squirrels recorded in parks) in largest parks located c. 2-7 km from the city centre. In forests (N = 12), squirrels density was much lower than in parks (0.1-0.3 families per 10 ha).
The mapping method was employed to study avian community structure in relation to rainfall in a town suburb in Highveld grassland in southern Africa. Studies were conducted in two breeding seasons: 1998, with dry spring; and 2001, with close to average spring rainfall. The total rainfall in 1998 was 1254 mm, while in 2001 it was 1445 mm, in both years much above the long-term annual average (866 mm). The avian community remained remarkably similar in both years, both in respect to the number of species (44 in 1998 and 53 in 2001), and dominance relationships. The Simpson’s Diversity Index was high and also very similar in 1998 and 2001 (D = 0.91; 0.93 respectively). In all years, dominant species included the Laughing Dove, Grey-headed Sparrow, Speckled Dove, Cape Turtle-Dove and Common Fiscal. The Southern Red Bishop in 2001 was also in the group of dominants. Significant differences were noted in the overall density of all birds, but contrary to expectation density was higher in 1998, with lower rainfall, than in 2001, with higher rainfall. The proportions of nesting and feeding guilds were similar in both years compared, except for the granivores, which were proportionally more common in 1998 than in 2001. This difference was mainly due to the Laughing Dove and Grey-headed Sparrow. Generally, it appears that the suburban avian community is more stable and more diverse than neighbouring communities in the natural habitats.
Typical, but less common, passerine forest species were selected for this study, such as Lullula arborea, Anthus trivialis, Troglodytes troglodytes, Prunella modularis, Turdus philomelos, Turdus viscivorus, Phylloscopus sibilatrix, Regulus regulus, Regulus ignicapillus, Muscicapa striata, Ficedula albicollis, Ficedula hypoleuca, Parus cristatus, Parus palustris, Parus ater, Certhia familiaris, Certhia brachydactyla, Oriolus oriolus, Garrulus glandarius, and Corvus corax. M. striata and T. philomelos were the most numerous among the 20 investigated species, the former one nested in a density of 6.7 pairs per 100 ha of wooded area, while the later one at 5.1 pairs per 100 ha. Density of most other species was below 3 pairs per 100 ha of wooded area. A. trivialis, P. cristatus and P. modularis were unexpectedly rare (< 1 pair per 100 ha). Otherwise, relatively numerous were T. troglodytes (1.8 p./100 ha), R. regulus (1.8 p./100 ha) and P. palustris (1.4 p./100 ha). P. cristatus, L. arborea, and T. viscivorus were the rarest species investigated (below 0.1 p./100 ha). Several bird species nested in wooded areas only in the outer zone of the city. This group included A. trivialis, R. regulus, P. ater, and C. corax. Population density of T. troglodytes, T. philomelos and O. oriolus were significantly higher in outer than in inner zone, while the reverse was true in the case of M. striata and F. hypoleuca.
During the years 1994–2009, the number of White Stork pairs breeding in the city of Wrocław (293 km2) fluctuated between 5 pairs in 1999 and 19 pairs 2004. Most nests were clumped in two sites in the Odra river valley. Two nests were located only cca. 1 km from the city hall. The fluctuations in numbers can be linked to the availability of feeding grounds and weather. In years when grass was mowed in the Odra valley, the number of White Storks was higher than in years when the grass was left unattended. Overall, the mean number of fledglings per successful pair during the years 1995–2009 was slightly higher in the rural than in the urban area. Contrary to expectation, the mean number of fledglings per successful pair was the highest in the year of highest population density. In two rural counties adjacent to Wrocław, the number of breeding pairs was similar to that in the city in 1994/95 (15 vs. 13 pairs). However, in 2004 the number of breeding pairs in the city almost doubled compared to that in the neighboring counties (10 vs. 19 pairs). After a sharp decline between 2004 and 2008, populations in both areas were similar in 2009 (5 vs. 4 pairs), but much lower than in 1994–1995. Wrocław is probably the only large city (>100,000 people) in Poland, where the White Stork has developed a sizeable, although fluctuating, breeding population. One of the most powerful role the city-nesting White Storks may play is their ability to engage directly citizens with nature and facilitate in that way environmental education and awareness.
Studies were carried out in 2010 by mean of simplified version of the mapping method. The study area (395 ha) was located close to the city centre. It comprised a mosaic of urbanized habitats, with a clear dominance of green areas, such as parks (41.1 ha), gardens, cemeteries and tree clumps. A total of 48 breeding bird species were recorded in the whole study area. The most common (<25 pairs/100 ha) were Passer domesticus, Passer montanus, Sturnus vulgaris, Parus caeruleus, Parus major, Apus apus and Columba livia. Numerous (7-15 pairs/100 ha) were also the following species: Columba palumbus, Turdus pilaris, Sylvia atricapilla, Serinus serinus, Turdus merula and Pica pica. Insectivorous birds were the most common birds constituting 63.3%, and granivorous -32.6% of all pairs recorded. Most birds nested in tree holes (39.3%), in/on buildings (30.2%) and in trees/shrubs (25.6%). Distribution of breeding pairs of 23 bird species was presented on maps. Population trends for 17 species were documented. Rapid increase in numbers of Turdus pilaris, Corvus cornix and Phoenicurus phoenicurus and decrease of Pica pica were recorded.
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