Ikram Douini, Mohamed Mounir, Ismail Mansouri et al.

Urban landscapes are richer in bird species when compared to farming lands: evidence from Morocco (Northwest Africa)

Abstract Urban expansion leads to modifications of habitat features, organization, and resources. Bird assemblages are known to respond by escaping destructive changes and adapting to sustainable ones. In this study, we investigated for the first time the avian diversity and its variation following the rural-urban gradient in Beni Mellal (Morocco) from 2018 to 2021. We used the line-transect method and multivariate analysis to demonstrate the selection of breeding habitats. Our result revealed a total of 84 species divided into resident breeders (64.28%), passage migrants (17.85%), breeding migrants (26.19%), winter visitors (32.18%) and accidental visitors (1.19%). Two globally vulnerable species counting the European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur and the European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis were recorded. Breeding populations were concentrated in green spaces (9 species) located in the urban zone, compared with farmlands (7 species), peri-urban (3 species), and rural areas (3 species). Therefore, these results reverse the hypothesis that rural and farming lands are more species-rich because of a higher population size. This is due to the abundance of breeding and foraging resources in urban green spaces compared to arid lands surrounding cities in this North African area. Furthermore, our study provides a new opportunity for comparative studies of avian diversity in Morocco and Northwest Africa.

Doi https://doi.org/10.35513/21658005.2022.2.2

Keywords Avian diversity; richness; rural-urban gradient; Beni Mellal

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