More birds in residential areas

Leipzig: Variety of species in socially weaker areas often lower

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The uneven distribution of biodiversity in Leipzig reflects the socio-economic conditions in the city. For example, bird species diversity is often lower in socially deprived areas than in areas with above-average income. This has now been shown by scientists in a new study on breeding bird distribution, which they report in the journal "Ecology and Society".

In their study, researchers compared the numbers of bird species with data on land use, population density, household size, average age, housing vacancy, and average income of the population.

As the scientists at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) write, the urban areas whose inhabitants receive a higher average income are characterized by large proportions of high-quality green areas, which offer favorable living conditions for birds.

For this reason, according to the researchers in less favored neighborhoods, city planners should make more efforts to improve the quality and quantity of green spaces. This could contribute to an increase in biodiversity and thus make it possible for all city dwellers alike to experience nature.

Variety of bird species in the sights

The variety of bird species is an indicator for scientists to assess the ecological quality of urban green spaces. A number of studies already indicate that there is a positive correlation between species-rich urban green and the health of the residents. display

For their study, the scientists from the UFZ investigated the number of breeding bird species within a radius of 500 meters around residential locations. How many species of birds Leipzig can actually perceive at their place of residence depends above all on the residential area: Depending on the district, between twelve and 73 species live in the radius considered. There are only a few bird species in the east of Leipzig in the districts of Volkmarsdorf and Neustadt-Neuschönefeld and in the west in the prefabricated housing estate Grünau.

Villa areas also have more plant species

"Most of the species, however, the residents can experience in the more central north to southwestern areas of the city, for example in Schleußig or Waldstraßenviertel, " says UFZ researcher Michael Strohbach. "There are more and in terms of ecological significance, higher quality green areas than in other parts of the city. In addition, these districts are located near the very species-rich Leipzig floodplain forest

Already in the 1980s, scientists had found that residential areas in Leipzig contain much more plant species than Plattenbauviertel - a total of 212 compared to 139.

Higher social status - higher biodiversity

According to the study, however, two-thirds of Leipzig residents live in areas where the diversity of brood-birds in the neighborhood is below the Leipzig average. This is similar to the situation in other cities already studied. For example, a few years ago, North American scientists found that neighborhoods with higher social status are often characterized by a higher biodiversity than neighborhoods with lower ones.

"The similarity with Leipzig is surprising, since the differences in lifestyle, population density and development compared to North America are significant, " says Dagmar Haase, scientist at UFZ and professor of landscape ecology at the Humboldt University Berlin.

Fallow land on three percent of the city area

Currently, fallow land accounts for about three percent of the city area, which is why Leipzig has great potential for the development of green areas. This potential is already being used in part as part of the urban redevelopment in the east and west of Leipzig. At the same time, existing natural spaces must be effectively protected.

The upgrading of neighborhoods by a high biodiversity is not only a question of social justice, but also has tangible positive effects on climate and quality of life Shadow effect to adapt to climate change and also have a positive impact on the health of local residents.

(idw - Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ, 20.08.2010 - DLO)