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1 June 2005 Avian species assemblages on New Mexico golf courses: surrogate riparian habitat for birds?
Michele Merola-Zwartjes, John P. DeLong
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The goal of our study was to determine how golf courses in the desert environment impact the indigenous bird community and, particularly, to see whether golf courses may serve as surrogate riparian habitats for southwestern birds. We compared the avian communities on 5 golf courses in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area (4 traditional and 1 “naturalistic”) to those of 5 paired natural areas that served as reference sites. We surveyed birds using breeding-season point counts over 2 years and measured several habitat characteristics of each site. In agreement with most other studies of urbanization effects, we found that bird abundance was greater on 4 out of 5 golf courses. In contrast to many studies of urban birds, we found that both total species richness and species diversity was higher on the golf courses in 3 out of 5 cases, and indigenous species richness was higher on all 5 of the golf courses. Of the bird species unique to the golf-course communities, 74% were riparian associates. Although they had high numbers of indigenous species, most of the individuals on golf courses were relatively common generalist species. The naturalistic golf course that was dominated by native vegetation had greater indigenous bird species richness, diversity, and abundance when compared to its reference site and all of the other courses. We conclude that golf courses do have the potential to support riparian bird communities but that their conservation potential can be enhanced through the addition of habitat complexity and structure.

Michele Merola-Zwartjes and John P. DeLong "Avian species assemblages on New Mexico golf courses: surrogate riparian habitat for birds?," Wildlife Society Bulletin 33(2), 435-447, (1 June 2005).[435:ASAONM]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 June 2005

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avian diversity
avian species assemblage
avian species richness
bird community composition
bird diversity
golf course
riparian birds
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