Urban noise and surrounding city morphology influence green space occupancy by native birds in a Mediterranean-type South American metropolis

Sci Rep. 2022 Mar 16;12(1):4471. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-08654-7.


Urban green spaces provide natural habitat for birds in urban landscapes, yet the effects of noise and surrounding urban morphology on bird community structure and distribution are not well understood in Latin America, the second most urbanized region in the world. Santiago of Chile is the single city belonging to the Mediterranean ecosystem in South America and is subject to extensive urbanization as seen throughout Latin America. We examined the role of 65 urban green spaces-6 large urban parks (PAR) and 59 small green spaces (SGS)-in harboring native birds during winter 2019, analyzing the quality of green areas in terms of vegetation (i.e. NDVI, native vegetation, and tree cover), exotic bird species, noise levels, and surrounding urban morphology (i.e. building height and cover). Significantly higher noise levels were detected in SGS, along with significantly greater exotic bird (n = 4) richness and abundance than PAR, which possessed significantly greater native bird (n = 25) richness and abundance. Native birds were more abundant than exotic birds in green spaces with average noise levels < 52 dB and average NDVI > 0.5. Occupancy models indicate that green space occupancy by 50% of modeled native bird species was influenced by maximum noise levels, playing a larger role than vegetation (30%) and urban morphology (0%). We stress the importance of developing networks of large green spaces in rapidly urbanizing regions, with abundant tree cover, surrounded by smaller urban morphology, and regulating noise levels to ensure the conservation of native bird communities in cities, particularly those that are threatened.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Birds / physiology
  • Chile
  • Cities
  • Ecosystem*
  • Parks, Recreational*
  • Trees
  • Urbanization