Ecological studies focused on small-scale habitat alterations have found positive, null, and negative effects on biodiversity. In this study, we describe the effects that establishing a relatively small area of garden allotments had on bird communities. To assess such effects, we analyzed avian community diversity (i.e., species richness and abundance) and behavioral traits (i.e., foraging, perching). Although land transformation was recent and on a small geographic-scale, our results showed that bird communities in the allotments were dominated by a few species, while in the almond plantation (former habitat) evenness was higher. When perching and foraging behavior was compared in the two study areas, we found a significantly higher proportion of foraging in the garden allotments, and a higher proportion of birds perching in the naturalized plantation. Although new habitats often enhance regional bird species richness in Mediterranean landscapes, we found no evidence of an increase in regional avian diversity related to the establishment of small garden allotments. We propose that future harvesting activities should consider the scale, intensity, and frequency of the generated perturbation in order to promote biodiversity.
Avian ecology, Biodiversity, Bird communities, Land-use transformation
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