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Journal Articles Urban Ecosystems Year : 2010

Value of an urban habitat for the native Mediterranean avifauna

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Sabina Amparo Caula
  • Function : Author
Clélia Sirami
Jean-Louis Martin
  • Function : Author


Mediterranean landscapes resulted from complex land uses that produced a mosaic of extensive crops, grasslands, scrublands and scattered woodlands. During the twentieth century the decrease in traditional agriculture triggered a decrease in open habitats and an increase in forests. In the meantime urban centres grew dramatically. Both spread of forest and urban areas have been suspected to participate in the decline of typical Mediterranean bird species and, in general, to cause faunal loss. However, modern cities offer a variety of landscape types and, in the Mediterranean, their value for native bird species has been little assessed. We compared the bird communities from an urban landscape, including built up and natural or semi natural units within the limits of the city of Montpellier, to the bird communities from non-urban habitats (cropland, grassland and woodland) located nearby but away from direct urban influence. Fifty four percent of the bird species recorded in the non-urban habitats also occurred in the urban landscape. On average, estimated species richness in the urban landscape was similar to values obtained for non-urban habitats. Within the urban landscape species richness was lowest in the dense historical centre and highest in the residential areas. The residential areas and urban woods were suitable habitats for most generalist species but also for several more specialized species recorded in the non-urban habitats. Some species actually reached their highest observation frequency in the urban landscape. Urban landscape was least favourable to the same farmland and open-habitat specialists that have been negatively affected by agricultural abandonment in the region. Finally, five of the species common in the urban landscape had an unfavorable conservation status in 2004 in the EU. This study emphasizes that Mediterranean urban areas have the potential to host a diverse native bird community. Finding ways to improve their carrying capacity for the local avifauna might be a worthwhile objective for animal conservation.

Dates and versions

halshs-01227517 , version 1 (11-11-2015)



Sabina Amparo Caula, Clélia Sirami, Pascal Marty, Jean-Louis Martin. Value of an urban habitat for the native Mediterranean avifauna. Urban Ecosystems, 2010, 13 (1), pp. 73-89. ⟨10.1007/s11252-009-0104-0⟩. ⟨halshs-01227517⟩
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