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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Assessing functional landscape connectivity for songbirds in an urban environment

  • Author(s): Tremblay, Marie
  • et al.

Worldwide, urbanization is recognized as a leading cause of species extinction because of its role in rapid and permanent habitat loss and fragmentation. This study investigates how habitat fragmentation caused by urbanization and transportation corridors affects the movements—and ultimately, the occurrence—of songbirds within a human-impacted landscape. In spring and summer 2005, I used audio playbacks to measure the willingness of birds to cross small-scale features such as roads, railways, rivers, and transportation bridges over riparian corridors within the urban landscape of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Preliminary results indicate a negative correlation between the likelihood of forest-dependent birds crossing roads, rivers, and bridges over riparian corridors and the width of the gap in vegetation associated with these features. In contrast, railways appeared to be highly permeable for forest birds, probably due to their relatively narrow width. This study is still in its earliest stages. Subsequent phases of the project include: (1) using translocations to measure the permeability of larger-scale elements of the landscape such as freeways and neighbourhoods of various ages and densities, (2) developing individual-based, spatially explicit models aimed at depicting functional landscape connectivity among the city’s natural areas, and (3) exploring the relationship between landscape connectivity and bird species occurrence within these natural areas.

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