Urban-rural and temporal differences of woody plants and bird species in Harbin city, northeastern China.
Urbanization has been greatly accelerated by the economic growth in China, while its possible effects on woody plants, bird species and their associations are not well defined yet. Here, we analyzed urban-rural gradients (landscape level: urban-farmland-forest-natural reserves; city level: ring road and urban build-up history) and temporal data (1955-1980-2014 for woody plants; 1980s-2010 s for birds) in Harbin city, China, to investigate the changes in the composition and diversity of woody plants and birds during urbanization. Both landscape gradient and temporal data confirmed that urbanization had the function of species conservations with sharp increases of alien species and tropical type plants. In the case woody species, 60-yr urbanization in Harbin had induced increases of 9 families and 17 genera, and there were 7-20 more families, 12-35 more genera, 1.6-2.6 higher Margalef richness in urban areas than those in nature reserves and local forest farms; Increases in alien species (4-fold in 60-yr urbanization; 21% in urban area vs <2% for non-urban region) and tropical type plants (1.6-fold in 60-yr urbanization; temperate/tropical ratio at 1.2 in urban area vs >1.6 in non-urban area) were mainly responsible for these compositional changes, which can be proved by their significant correlations. Moreover, moderate disturbance had peak values in alien species, tropical type plants, Shannon-wiener diversity, Margalef richness index and Pielou evenness index, and both ring road- and buildup history gradients showed the similar tendency. Compared with those in 1980s, forest- and eurytopic-habitats birds increased 9-11 species (23-39%), and omnivorous, insect-eating, and phytophagous bird increased 5-9 species (14.1-29.4%) in those in 2010s, indicating that bird temporal changes were closely related with the changes in urban forests owing to food supply and habitat provision. Our findings could provide data for biodiversity evaluation of urbanization effects, and is also useful for ecological re-construction of local cities in China.