Estimating the relative importance of vegetation on residential land (gardens, yards, and street-trees) and vegetation on non-residential land (parks and other large green spaces) is important so that competing options for urban conservation planning can be prioritized. We used data from an urban breeding-bird monitoring program to compare the relative effects vegetation on residential land and vegetation on non-residential land (both the amount and type of vegetation at local and landscape scales) on bird species richness and an index of conservation value for the bird community. We then estimated the realised relative benefit of managing the amount of vegetation on these two types of land (i.e., as alternative management options for promoting biodiversity), which might be achieved within the practical limits imposed by human population density. The local effects of increasing residential and non-residential vegetation amount were similar and positive on all measures of bird species richness and conservation value. Non-residential vegetation had an additional landscape-scale influence on bird diversity that residential vegetation did not. Options for managing the amount of non-residential vegetation appear to be more limited by high human population density than for managing the amount of residential vegetation. This suggests that there may be greater realised benefits to bird diversity from managing the amount of vegetation on residential land than from the more common focus of urban planning of managing vegetation on non-residential land.

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Keywords Avian, Conservation value, Garden, Green space, Park, Species richness
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Journal Urban Ecosystems
Smith, A.C. (Adam C.), Francis, C.M. (Charles M.), & Fahrig, L. (2014). Similar effects of residential and non-residential vegetation on bird diversity in suburban neighbourhoods. Urban Ecosystems, 17(1), 27–44. doi:10.1007/s11252-013-0301-8