Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Birds of forgotten lands: Avian communities in Baltimore’s vacant lots

By Christine Rega (BES)

Greetings from one of the two urban LTER’s in Baltimore, Maryland!  This summer we are hosting a variety of projects in “Charm City” across disciplines and institutions to understand how urban ecosystems function and change over time.  I thought I’d talk a bit about my dissertation research, which falls within Baltimore Ecosystem Study’s Biodiversity project, the goal of which to determine the relationship between “forest patch origin, size class, and adjacent land use type on species composition and abundance”. 

The overarching goal of my research is to understand the role of vacant lots within the network of urban greenspaces, specifically if they are sustainable habitat sources for bird communities, within a metacommunity framework.  Baltimore has been experiencing a 4.6% population decline over the past ten years, resulting in over 17,000 parcels of vacant land.  This summer is my first field season out to these very interesting lots, which range greatly in their composition and structure (below).  My goals this season are to assess bird communities in these lots, in addition to monitoring nests, determining body condition values for American robins, and resighting color bands to determine any movement between these sites.