Birds from Urban Latin America, Where Economic Inequality and Urbanization Meet Biodiversity

  • Ian MacGregor-Fors
  • Juan F. Escobar-Ibáñez


Following a massive migration toward cities, more than half of the total human population is now urban. Given the unbalanced metabolism of urban systems, urbanization has been recognized to be a major ecological driver with worrisome consequences at different spatial and temporal scales. Such an environmental issue has drawn the attention of ecologists from across the globe since the late 1990s, when urban ecology consolidated as a discipline. Although urban ecology has developed importantly in the last three decades, our comprehension of the effects of urbanization on wildlife communities is heavily biased toward developed countries, most of which are located in temperate regions. Woefully, there is a dearth of knowledge from highly biodiverse areas with increasing urbanization rates and major urban agglomerations. Latin America is not an exception, with most of its population in rapidly growing urban centers. Given that the region concentrates important biodiverse areas in a scenario of considerable economic and social disparity, understanding the effects that urbanization has on wildlife species is of special concern. Even though ecological studies performed in urban Latin America started in the 1970s, urban ecology in the region is still in the process of consolidation, with birds being the most studied group. Several ecological patterns hold in urban Latin America when contrasted with those from other regions; yet, important differences have been identified, making evident the need to understand the response of wildlife species in the region. In this book, we gathered regional experts to set the state-of-the-art of bird studies in urban Latin America. Starting with an updated review, the book transits across topics such as urban bird species richness, composition, abundance, demography, population dynamics, behavior, threats, and conservation, as well as their relationships with ‘green’ and ‘gray’ infrastructures. After reviewing the specific topics with information from across the globe, each chapter contrasts the global findings with those from Latin America, identifying knowledge gaps and research needs to suggest future directions. The gathered information sets the foundation for the study of birds in urban Latin America, hopefully promoting the consolidation of the field in the region and encouraging future mechanistic studies that untangle the recorded patterns to have the required information to bridge the gap between evidence-based knowledge and practice in urban systems.


Anthropocene Avian studies Ecological footprint Megadiverse cities Urban ecology 



The authors are deeply thankful to Mark Goddard and Rafael Rueda Hernández for their valuable comments and suggestions that improved the clarity of this chapter, and Michelle García-Arroyo for her support in drawing Fig. 1.1. JFE-I acknowledges the scholarship and financial support provided by the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT 366146), as well as the Graduate School of the Instituto de Ecología, A.C. (INECOL).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Red de Ambiente y SustentabilidadInstituto de EcologíaXalapaMexico

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