Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 779–793 | Cite as

Birds biodiversity in urban and periurban forests: environmental determinants at local and landscape scales

  • Claudia Canedoli
  • Raoul Manenti
  • Emilio Padoa-Schioppa


A significant decline in biodiversity is associated with the current and upcoming degree of urbanization. A challenging strategy to address this conflict is to make urban growth compatible with biodiversity protection and in this context urban parks can play a crucial role. Urban systems are highly dynamic and complex human-shaped ecosystems, where the relationship between species and environment may be altered and make the preservation of biodiversity within them a challenging goal. In this study, we analysed how different environmental features affect bird biodiversity in one of the most urbanized areas of Italy (the metropolitan area of Milan) at different spatial scales. Bird surveys were conducted in fifteen urban and peri-urban parks and environmental variables at landscape and local scale recorded. Results showed that a mixture of land covers and the presence of water bodies inside urban parks favoured species occurrence and abundance at landscape scale, but a surrounding dense urban matrix deflated biodiversity. At local scale, woodland cover and presence of water bodies were key determinants in ensuring overall high biodiversity but local-specific vegetation management produced an unusual pattern for forests species. In particular, the maintenance of large trees may not result in biodiversity support for forest bird species if large trees are not located in woodland areas with a significant tree density. To understand biodiversity patterns and provide useful information for urban planning and design, we need to provide insights into species/environment relationships at multiple scales in the urban environment.


Urban forests Birds’ biodiversity Diameter at breast height Habitat provisioning 



This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research within the program PRIN 2012 (project name “Innovative models for the analysis of ecosystem services of forests in urban and periurban context”, grant number 2012K3A2HJ). We are grateful to G. F. Ficetola for precious suggestions on data analyses. We also thank two anonymous reviewers and the journal editors for constructive comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Ambiente e del TerritorioUniversità degli Studi di Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze e Politiche AmbientaliUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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