Urban Wildlife: More than meets the eye
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Kings Park is a 400 ha reserve near the centre of the City of Perth, Western Australia. Two-hundred and sixtyseven hectares of the park remain as native vegetation and the park has a rich flora and fauna. Contributing importantly to the naturalness of Kings Park is its birdlife with more than 80 species having been recorded within the park's boundaries. Despite the large amount of native vegetation, Kings Park is not pristine and has been changed in many ways by human activities since the settlement of Perth by Europeans in 1829. These changes to the park, as well as changes to the urban matrix in which the park is found, coupled with regional changes outside the urban environment, have produced a dynamic and changing avifauna. Census data are available for a transect through Kings Park from 1928 to 2002. Between 1928 and 2002, 61 species of birds, excluding waterbirds, were recorded along the transect. Of these, 20 % increased in abundance and 40 % decreased with 10 species proceeding to local extinction. Since 1928, Kings Park and the urban landscape of Perth has been increasingly dominated by large nectar-feeding and seed-eating birds. Small insectivores, particularly ground and shrub foragers, have declined in abundance or become locally extinct. Despite the array of changes in the avifauna, the birds of Kings Park are as rich and probably as abundant as they were in 1928 when censuses commenced. The avifauna is just different. Keeping birds in Kings Park and the urban environment requires no special attention. However, if small birds and insectivores are desired, changes need to be made not only to the management of the park, but to the way vegetation in the urban matrix is managed. Foremost among the changes needed is the progressive replacement of exotic trees and shrubs along roads and in parks and gardens with indigenous species and the creation of complex foliage structures. This is necessary to foster an abundant arthropod fauna for insectivores to feed upon and to provide the kinds of habitats such birds require. Whether such changes are essential or even desirable depends on the reasons why people want birds about them in the city and suburbs. It may be that it is only important to have birds and not important as to which species are represented.