Wasteland bird use. Evidence from the NW Mediterranean coast (Genoa, Italy)


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Bird occurrence was recorded from January 1989 to June 1991 in a wasteland area located on a sea embankment within a dammed sea basin close to the city of Genoa. The study area was visited almost weekly, globally recording 173 species whose occurrence ranged from a few to more than one thousand individuals at a time. Regularly detected species showed seasonal occurrence or seasonal fluctuations in numbers of individuals. Bird communities also showed seasonal turnover as testified by the cyclic trend ofthe herbivores/carnivores ratio. A description ofthe year succession ofbird communities was achieved by correspondence analysis between months and a total of69 most common species. The first axis (37.6% ofinertia) displayed species typical of different seasons, while the second one (22% of inertia) was related to the transient occurrence of migrant species. The most complex bird community was that of wintering species, mainly divided into sea birds and a crowded group of passeri ne species, whereas the warm season cornrnunity was less defined, excluding the Ringed Plover and the Short-toed Lark which bred in the area. Additionally, the area was also used as a refuelling ground by many migrant species, especially wetland birds when it was flooded by rain. Based on these data, and considering natural environment dcpletion, the value of wasteland as wildlife habitat and the opportunity of planning the occurrence of low-disturbance plots within heavily urbanized areas is discussed.