Presence of water bodies encourages bird diversity in urban green spaces: NParks study

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SINGAPORE - The presence of water bodies such as ponds and semi-natural habitat – including grasslands and younger secondary forests – are among the factors that encourage bird diversity in urban green spaces in Singapore, according to a National Parks Board (NParks) study.

The study also found that regularly shaped green spaces such as circles or squares, had higher bird diversity.

Such spaces have a larger core and fewer edge habitats – referring to the boundary between two land cover types, such as a forest and open grassland – which are associated with greater human disturbance and fewer resources for nesting.

These findings will guide the planning and design of urban green spaces in Singapore, NParks said on Thursday.

The study analysed data collected between 2015 and 2019 by over 1,100 “citizen scientists”, who are members of the public, under NParks’ Garden Bird Watch initiative to study factors influencing bird diversity here.

Volunteers for the watch undergo training on basic survey and birdwatching techniques, before being assigned to survey birds at a particular site.

The study recorded almost 70,000 sightings of 184 bird species from 64 sites across the island, including urban parks and nature parks, and the findings were published in academic journal Landscape and Urban Planning in March 2023.

While the study found greater bird diversity in regularly shaped green urban spaces, it noted, however, that certain species of birds preferred more irregularly shaped urban green spaces as they had adapted to edge habitats.

These include the dark-necked tailorbird, which has an olive upper and black streaks on its upper breast, and the pin-striped tit-babbler, with its prominent dark streaks on the throat and upper breast.

Water bodies within and around urban green spaces also increased t...

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