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The winter bird community of rural areas in the proximity of cities : low density and rapid decrease in diversity

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The current problem in farmland ecology is the change in the character of rural development in areas neighbouring cities and towns. Progressive urbanization and the predominance of housing estates over agricultural aims led to a change in the bird community. During 2005-2010, a survey of birds wintering within densely populated built-up rural areas was conducted by the line transect method (a total length of 8 km). A total number of 33 species was recorded and the most numerous dominant was the House Sparrow Passer domesticus, which constituted 32.58% of the bird community. The group of dominants and subdominants (which constituted up to 20% of the bird community) included the Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and the Rook Corvus frugilegus, and a group of forest and synanthropic species - the Great Tit Parus major, the Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus, the Blackbird Turdus merula, and the Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto. The total density varied in subsequent study years from 57.4 to 87.5 ind. 10 ha[^-1] and was approximately twice lower than in other rural regions studied in Poland. A significant decrease in the wintering birds. diversity index was recorded through the study period. The explanations for this could be in the character of villages in the proximity of builtup city areas. This has rapidly changed in recent years, and nowadays agricultural management in the region is discarded. As a result, farmlands of the region almost entirely lost their agricultural character, notably becoming a residential and recreational backup for cities. The villages neighbouring cities and towns are developed into suburban-like areas, where housing estates predominate over agricultural aims. Future consequences of these changes are far-reaching for farmland biodiversity and ecology. The decrease in species diversity and evolution into urban-like bird communities is the most probable scenario.
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