Pino J.; Rodà F.; Ribas J. et al. 2000. “Landscape structure and bird species richness: implications for conservation in rural areas between natural Parks”. Landscape and Urban Planning.


Regional planning is bound to play an increasing role in nature conservation policies because much biodiversity is located outside natural parks and other protected areas. Differences in landscape structure between natural parks and surrounding areas may affect their respective species richness and may provide seasonal habitats that enhance total biodiversity. To test these ideas, we analyzed patterns of bird species richness, and its associated conservation value in a largely forested rural area that lies between the natural parks of Sant Llorenç del Munt and Montseny (Catalonia, NE Spain). Relationships of species richness with spatial gradients (X and Y Universal Transversal of Mercator (UTM) coordinates) and with altitude and landscape variables were tested by stepwise multiple regression analysis. Regressions were performed separately for both breeding and wintering species, and considering both all species and only several dominant ecological groups (forest, forest-cropland and cropland species). Bird species richness and its associated conservation value were higher in the study area than in the surrounding borders of natural parks. Cropland and forest-cropland species concentrated outside the natural parks, whereas forest species were uniformly distributed. Total bird species richness was mainly related to landscape diversity and to abundance of open habitats like croplands and shrublands. Cropland species were the most dependent on the abundance of crops and on landscape diversity, whereas forest and forest-cropland species exhibited weak correlations with landscape variables. Most forest species were year-round residents, whereas forest-cropland and cropland species exhibited seasonal shifts in the number of species, mainly because of interchanges with other areas. Results indicate that rural areas play a role complementary to the surrounding natural protected areas in the conservation of bird species richness at different scales. Implications for the design and optimization of ecological networks in the perimetropolitan area of Barcelona are discussed.