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Morelli, F., Mikula, P., Benedetti, Y., Bussière, R., & Tryjanowski, P. (2018). Cemeteries support avian diversity likewise urban parks in European cities: Assessing taxonomic, evolutionary and functional diversity. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 36, 90–99.
Abstract: The aim of this study was to explore different components of avian diversity in two types of urban green areas, parks and cemeteries, in four European countries in relation to environmental characteristics. We studied bird species richness, functional diversity and evolutionary distinctiveness in 79 parks and 90 cemeteries located in four European countries: the Czech Republic, France, Italy and Poland.
First, we found no significant differences between cemeteries and parks in bird diversity. However, in both parks and cemeteries, only: two community metrics were affected by different environmental characteristics, including local vegetation structure and presence of human-related structures. Species richness was positively correlated with tree coverage and site size, functional diversity was unrelated to any of the measured variables, while the mean evolutionary distinctiveness score was positively correlated with tree coverage and negatively associated with the coverage of flowerbeds and number of street lamps.
Our findings can be useful for urban planning: by increasing tree coverage and site size it is possible to increase both taxonomic richness and evolutionary uniqueness of bird communities. In both parks and cemeteries, the potential association between light pollution and bird species richness was negligible. We also identified some thresholds where bird diversity was higher. Bird species richness was maximized in parks/cemeteries larger than 1.4 ha, with grass coverage lower than 65%. The evolutionary uniqueness of bird communities was higher in areas with tree coverage higher than 45%. In conclusion, the findings of this study provide evidence that cemeteries work similarly than urban parks supporting avian diversity.