Are cities different? Patterns of species richness and beta diversity of urban bird communities and regional species assemblages in Europe


Michal Ferenc, Ondřej Sedláček, Roman Fuchs, Marco Dinetti, Maurizio Frassinet, David Storch

DOI: 10.1111/geb.12130



To compare macroecological patterns between bird communities of European cities and regional species assemblages in the surrounding landscape, and to reveal geographical trends in the urbanization of native avifauna.


Forty-one towns and cities in continental Europe.


We compiled data on the species richness and community composition of urban avifauna from 41 European city breeding bird atlases, and of species assemblages comprising nine grid cells (each about 50 km × 50 km) from the EBCC Atlas of European Breeding Birds (hereafter regional assemblages). Species–area relationships (SARs), latitudinal trends in diversity and the distance decay of community similarity were compared using regression models (generalized linear models). Observed urban communities were compared with randomly assembled ones to reveal systematic effects of the urban environment on native bird communities across Europe. We employed variance partitioning to quantify the relative effect of environmental parameters and the spatial position of cities on species richness.


The species–area relationships did not differ significantly between cities and regional assemblages. Species richness of both types of communities increased towards higher latitudes, although the relationship was unimodal for regional assemblages, in contrast to cities. The increase in beta diversity with distance was on average less pronounced in cities than in regional assemblages, and was lower between individual cities than between communities of the same size randomly drawn from regional species assemblages. Moreover, average beta diversity was lower in northern cities, which are characterized by a relatively higher proportion of species from regional species pools.

Main conclusions

The species–area relationship and latitudinal trends are largely congruent between cities and the regional assemblages. However, city avifaunas tend to be relatively more uniform across space, revealing biotic homogenization. Urban communities in northern cities are more uniform as a higher proportion of bird species breeds in cities.

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How to improve urban greenspace for woodland birds: site and local-scale determinants of bird species richness


Michal Ferenc, Ondřej Sedláček, Roman Fuchs

DOI: 10.1007/s11252-013-0328-x


Wooded habitats represent hotspots of urban biodiversity, however, urban development imposes pressure on biota in these refuges. Identification of the most influential habitat attributes and the role of local urban characteristics is crucial for proper decisions on management practices supporting biodiversity. We aimed to identify well manageable fine-scale habitat attributes to suggest specific, feasible and affordable management recommendations for green space in cities. We analysed species richness of woodland-associated bird communities and incidence of individual species at 290 sites in a wide variety of green areas scattered across the city of Prague, Czech Republic. Generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) and regression tree analyses were used to identify site-scale (100 m radius sampling sites) and local-scale (200 m and 500 m radius plots) habitat attributes shaping the bird communities at individual sites. Logistic regression was used to assess the responses of individual species to habitat characteristics. Our results imply that at the site scale, management practices should focus on maintenance and promoting species-diverse and older tree stands, with a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees. Water-bodies and accompanying riparian habitats should be maintained and carefully managed to preserve high-quality remnants of natural vegetation. Presence of a few old trees (about 12 % of tree cover with DBH > 50 cm) or small urban standing water and watercourses enrich the bird community by at least two species. Species richness of woodland avifauna at particular sites is further supported by the total amount of tree cover in the surroundings, including scattered greenery of public spaces and private gardens. We conclude that proper management at site scale has the potential to increase biodiversity of the urban environment.

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Tereza Drábková

Tereza Drábková

Personal data:

Name: Mgr. et Mgr. Tereza Drábková
Born: 1990, České Budějovice


Office: B263 (B building, 1st floor)



  • Bishop Grammar School, Budweis
  • Bachelor studies – programme Biology; University of South Bohemia, Faculty of Science
  • Master studies:
    • programme Zoology; University of South Bohemia, Faculty of Science
    • programme Biology for education; University of South Bohemia, Faculty of Science
  • PhD studies (in progress) – programme Zoology; University of South Bohemia, Faculty of Science


Drábková T (2015, in English)
Colour pattern does not play a key role in forming a mimetic complex of red-and-black insects. Experiments with naïve and adult great tits
M.Sc. thesis (PDF)

Drábková T (2013)
Reakce sýkory koňadry na výstražné signály aposematického hmyzu
B.Sc. thesis (PDF)


  • The 8th European Conference of Behavioural Biology; Vienna, Austria.
    July 12-16 2016
  • 42nd conference ČSEtS, České Budějovice, Czech Republic.
    November 4-7 2015
  • Zoologické dny (2016)
  • Zoologické dny (2012)

Foreign stays:

2016: Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle, Grünau im Almtal (Austria)