Biogeographical comparison of winter bird assemblages in urban environments in Finland

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We studied biogeographical variation of urban bird assemblages in Finland. Winter birds were censused by single-visit study plot method from thirty-one centres of villages or towns along 950 km latitudinal extent. A total twenty-eight bird species was observed and the average density was 61.2 ind./10 ha. The number of dominant species in study areas varied between two and seven and their proportion of the whole assemblage was over 70%. Species richness, but not the density of birds, decreased northwards in pooled data. Higher species richness in south than in north was mainly due to the higher amount of delayed migratory birds (e.g. waterbirds, finches) and southerly distributed bird species. However, in heavily urbanized areas species richness did not decrease northwards. This observation disagreed with the hypothesis that species richness decreased northwards. Bird density, but not species richness, increased with urbanization. In particular, feral pigeon, hooded crow and house sparrow had highest densities in most urbanized areas. As only few bird species are adapted to live in urban areas, species composition and dominant bird species were almost the same in the south and in the north. These urban birds may effectively use energy rich food in feeding tables and overcome the problems of severe climate in the north. This may be the reason why bird species richness does not decrease northwards in urban areas.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, P.O. Box 122, FIN-96101 Rovaniemi, Finland 2: Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35, FIN-40351 Jyväskylä, Finland

Publication date: May 1, 1996

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