Comparison of Avian Communities within Traditional and Wildscaped Residential Neighborhoods in San Antonio, Texas
Hunter, Amanda L.
Incorporating wildlife habitat into residential areas is becoming increasingly common for homeowners and developers, and is touted as a way to reduce some of the impacts of residential development on wildlife populations. However, few studies have tested this claim. I tested the hypothesis that a residential neighborhood m San Antonio, Texas, which was certified by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a Texas Wildscape in 1996, had a more diverse bird community than an adjacent traditionally developed residential neighborhood. I also hypothesized that the bird community at a nearby natural area (Government Canyon State Natural Area) was more similar to the bird community at the wildscaped neighborhood than at the traditional neighborhood. Further, I hypothesized that differences m the density and structure of the habitat (primarily woody vegetation) influenced potential differences in the bird communities at the three sites. After two years of bird surveys, bird diversity (including independent measures of species richness and evenness) at the wildscaped neighborhood was significantly greater than at the traditional neighborhood or the natural area. The density of woody plants and the amount of vertical cover were moderately to strongly correlated with bird diversity measures at the residential sites. This study suggests that residential areas that incorporate natural landscapes into their design can attract a greater variety of birds than traditionally landscaped residential areas. These areas may provide valuable habitat for some declining species and reduce the impacts of residential development, especially where urbanization is encroaching on natural areas.
birds, wildlife habitat improvement, habitat conservation, San Antonio
Hunter, A. L. (2002). Comparison of avian communities within traditional and wildscaped residential neighborhoods in San Antonio, Texas (Unpublished thesis). Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.