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Avian Urban Ecology: Conservation Planning Opportunities for Reno, NV, USA
AuthorTrammell, Erick James
AdvisorBassett, Scott D.
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The study of urban ecology has grown significantly over the years, resulting in an increased understanding of how human-designed landscapes fit into the larger landscape, and how this impacts local, regional, and global biodiversity. This dissertation explores the relationship between urban birds and the various components that combine to create the urban environment in the cities of Reno and Sparks, Nevada, USA. The first chapter explores the overall pattern of native species diversity, and finds that native species diversity increases as urbanization increases. This pattern appears to be related to the presence of the Truckee River, and its associated riparian habitat. This relationship between riparian habitat and urbanization is explored further in the second chapter, where land use planning is assessed with vegetation as a new way to describe the urban environment (urban form), in order to better describe avian diversity patterns. Urban form, and specifically land use planning, described avian diversity patters better than vegetation alone, suggesting that urban form represents a more robust way to quantify the urban environment. Using the relationships established in the first two chapters, the third chapter models the impacts to avian habitat under three different growth scenarios. This chapter discusses the fact that while avian-centric policies can be an effective tool for conservation, open space plans (which are a critical part of most urban land use plans) can also be effective conservation tools, especially when they are flexible to incorporate locally collected empirical data. A primary tenant of urban ecological research is the identification and implementation of land use plans that protect urban ecological function. This research identifies the opportunities for increased conservation planning in cities, and suggests some specific ways that Reno and Sparks (with generalizations that could help other semi-arid medium sized cities) can increase the implementation of ecologically-based land use plans.