Relationship of bird richness, abundance and assemblage to the built environment in a small island tropical urban setting: a Suva, Fiji case study.
There have been few studies investigating the relationship between the built environment and the status of bird distributions in small island tropical urban areas. We present a study investigating the relationship between bird species richness, abundance and assemblage to the built environment in Suva, Fiji. Field surveys were taken at 54 randomly selected sites throughout the city, stratified by three building density classes and the central business district (CBD). At each site bird counts were recorded, along with environmental data such as average building height, within a 150 m radius. Land-use information was obtained from screen digitized high-resolution satellite imagery within the same radius. Distance to undeveloped patches of land within the urban area was calculated using a GIS. Analysis of the effects of the built environment was carried out for all species, and for exotic and native species separately. Abundance of exotics was significantly higher in the central business district (CBD) than all other urban density classes, and significantly higher than natives in all other density classes. We found a negative relationship between native species richness and distance to undeveloped patches, but no relationship for exotics. Species assemblage was not related to urban density class. We conclude that the status of native and exotic bird species in Suva is similar to what has been found in urban areas in temperate climates, and conservation efforts should focus on minimizing the amount of heavily urbanized "core areas" and protecting undeveloped areas of forested vegetation to improve bird biodiversity in small tropical islands cities.