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Monday, April 9 • 4:30pm - 4:45pm
URBAN/EXURBAN LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY: Cavity-nesting Birds in Chicago's Cemeteries

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AUTHORS: Alexis D. Smith*, Emily Minor – University of Illinois at Chicago

ABSTRACT: The “rural cemetery” movement in the United States began in the early 19th century. At a time when cities were rapidly industrializing, these cemeteries were intended not only as a place to bury the dead, but also as a respite to city-dwellers. Chicago’s cemeteries comprise only a small part of the city’s urban forest (approximately 700 ha in total), but to wildlife they offer unique resources that are difficult to find in the surrounding hardscape. The purposes of this study were to characterize this understudied component of Chicago’s urban forest, and to gain insight into how birds (especially cavity-nesting birds) select urban habitat. To approach the latter question, we used Classification and Regression Tree (CART) models to predict each species’ presence or absence based on our local and landscape variables.We conducted fieldwork in 34 points in 18 of the 22 cemeteries within Chicago’s city limits. Within 50 m of each point, we identified and measured trees, recorded tree cavities, classified trees by their life stage (e.g. alive and healthy, declining, dying, or dead), and counted the numbers of headstones and monuments over 1 m tall (potential perches for insectivorous birds). We also conducted three rounds of point counts to identify birds using the cemeteries, and we measured canopy cover, distance from roads, and distance from a body of water using ArcGIS.Median tree basal area from all 34 points was 8.0 m2/ha (min. = 1.9 m2/ha, max. = 19.4 m2/ha), while median density was 25.5 trees/ha (min. = 6.4 trees/ha, max. = 42.0 trees/ha). Oaks (Quercus spp.) were only found in 13 of the 34 points, yet they dominated the cemetery forest in terms of basal area, comprising nearly 20% of the total. We detected 44 tree species and 42 bird species, including 12 native cavity-nesting species.

Monday April 9, 2018 4:30pm - 4:45pm CDT
Water Tower Parlor

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