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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 16, 2024
  2. Urbanization has a homogenizing effect on biodiversity and leads to communities with fewer native species and lower conservation value. However, few studies have explored whether or how land management by urban residents can ameliorate the deleterious effects of this homogenization on species composition. We tested the effects of local (land management) and neighborhood-scale (impervious surface and tree canopy cover) features on breeding bird diversity in six US metropolitan areas that differ in regional species pools and climate. We used a Bayesian multiregion community model to assess differences in species richness, functional guild richness, community turnover, population vulnerability, and public interest in each bird community in six land management types: two natural area park types (separate and adjacent to residential areas), two yard types with conservation features (wildlife-certified and water conservation) and two lawn-dominated yard types (high- and low-fertilizer application), and surrounding neighborhood-scale features. Species richness was higher in yards compared with parks; however, parks supported communities with high conservation scores while yards supported species of high public interest. Bird communities in all land management types were composed of primarily native species. Within yard types, species richness was strongly and positively associated with neighborhood-scale tree canopy cover and negatively associated with impervious surface. At a continental scale, community turnover between cities was lowest in yards and highest in parks. Within cities, however, turnover was lowest in high-fertilizer yards and highest in wildlife-certified yards and parks. Our results demonstrate that, across regions, preserving natural areas, minimizing impervious surfaces and increasing tree canopy are essential strategies to conserve regionally important species. However, yards, especially those managed for wildlife support diverse, heterogeneous bird communities with high public interest and potential to support species of conservation concern. Management approaches that include the preservation of protected parks, encourage wildlife-friendly yards and acknowledge how public interest in local birds can advance successful conservation in American residential landscapes. 
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  3. Abstract

    Despite interest in the contribution of evapotranspiration (ET) of residential turfgrass lawns to household and municipal water budgets across the United States, the spatial and temporal variability of residential lawn ET across large scales is highly uncertain. We measured instantaneous ET (ETinst) of lawns in 79 residential yards in six metropolitan areas: Baltimore, Boston, Miami, Minneapolis‐St. Paul (mesic climates), Los Angeles and Phoenix (arid climates). Each yard had one of four landscape types and management practices: traditional lawn‐dominated yards with high or low fertilizer input, yards with water‐conserving features, and yards with wildlife‐friendly features. We measured ETinstin situ during the growing season using portable chambers and identified environmental and anthropogenic factors controlling ET in residential lawns. For each household, we used ETinstto estimate daily ET of the lawn (ETdaily) and multiplied ETdailyby the lawn area to estimate the total volume of water lost through ET of the lawn (ETvol). ETdailyvaried from 0.9 ± 0.4 mm d1in mesic cities to 2.9 ± 0.7 mm d−1in arid cities. Neither ETinstnor ETdailywas significantly influenced by yard landscape types and ETinstpatterns indicated that lawns may be largely decoupled from regional rain‐driven climate patterns. ETvolranged from ∼0 L d−1to over 2,000 L d−1, proportionally increasing with lawn area. Current irrigation and lawn management practices did not necessarily result in different ETinstor ETdailyamong traditional, water‐conserving, or wildlife‐friendly yards, but smaller lawn areas in water‐conserving and wildlife‐friendly yards resulted in lower ETvol.

     
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  4. Abstract

    Urbanization has a homogenizing effect on biodiversity and leads to communities with fewer native species and lower conservation value. However, few studies have explored whether or how land management by urban residents can ameliorate the deleterious effects of this homogenization on species composition. We tested the effects of local (land management) and neighborhood‐scale (impervious surface and tree canopy cover) features on breeding bird diversity in six US metropolitan areas that differ in regional species pools and climate. We used a Bayesian multiregion community model to assess differences in species richness, functional guild richness, community turnover, population vulnerability, and public interest in each bird community in six land management types: two natural area park types (separate and adjacent to residential areas), two yard types with conservation features (wildlife‐certified and water conservation) and two lawn‐dominated yard types (high‐ and low‐fertilizer application), and surrounding neighborhood‐scale features. Species richness was higher in yards compared with parks; however, parks supported communities with high conservation scores while yards supported species of high public interest. Bird communities in all land management types were composed of primarily native species. Within yard types, species richness was strongly and positively associated with neighborhood‐scale tree canopy cover and negatively associated with impervious surface. At a continental scale, community turnover between cities was lowest in yards and highest in parks. Within cities, however, turnover was lowest in high‐fertilizer yards and highest in wildlife‐certified yards and parks. Our results demonstrate that, across regions, preserving natural areas, minimizing impervious surfaces and increasing tree canopy are essential strategies to conserve regionally important species. However, yards, especially those managed for wildlife support diverse, heterogeneous bird communities with high public interest and potential to support species of conservation concern. Management approaches that include the preservation of protected parks, encourage wildlife‐friendly yards and acknowledge how public interest in local birds can advance successful conservation in American residential landscapes.

     
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