Gains and Losses of Bird Functional Traits in Relation to Human Habitation

It is well established that anthropogenic activities alter natural habitats, ultimately leading to biodiversity loss. However, how landuse and landcover changes affect ecosystem functionality is largely unknown. In this study we assess changes in bird functional traits in relation to landuse changes across climate gradients. We use Israel’s national bird point counts database collected by Hamaarag – Israel’s Long-Term Biodiversity Monitoring Program. Data collection was carried out in eight different habitats across Israel’s climate gradient. Points in each habitat were divided between disturbed and natural areas and were revisited three times between 2012-2018. We compare resident bird community structure between disturbed and natural areas and accounted for life history trait differences between bird communities. 

Preliminary results show that there is a significant differences in community structure between altered and natural areas in all of the habitats. Some changes in community life history traits were repeatedly different between altered and natural areas, such as feeding preferences, nest placement and primary habitat. One change that occurred in all habitats was the disappearance of insect feeding species near altered lands and their replacement by invasive and commensal species. This research funded by Hamaarag and in collaboration with Prof. Tamar Dayan of School of Zoology and the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University.