Effects of the design and management of urban reserves on native bird communities in Auckland City, Aotearoa/New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Conservation Biology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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As the human population of Auckland City continues to increase, intense development pressure is causing an increase in housing density and widespread biodiversity loss, greatly increasing the importance of urban forest reserves as tree cover on private land is rapidly lost. The effectiveness of urban biodiversity conservation measures needs to be researched and understood if successful mitigation action is to conserve avian diversity in densifying cities. Little is known about the abundance and diversity of birds in Auckland’s urban reserves, and to date there have been no published studies on the breeding of native birds in the city. More knowledge is needed about the ability of reserves to sustain resilient urban bird populations, and about which habitat and reserve design factors are most important. In this study, 28 reserves on the Auckland Isthmus divided into four categories of shape and size, were surveyed for avian abundance and diversity. A breeding survey was also conducted to record presence of breeding success for tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), piwakawaka/New Zealand fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa) and riroriro/grey warbler (Gerygone igata). Native bird diversity was found to differ significantly between reserve size categories, with smaller reserves showing less diversity. Strong evidence was found of greater native bird diversity at sites with higher vegetation quality and greater vegetated area of adjacent landcover, indicating that the negative impact of smaller area could be offset by these factors. Reserve shape was not found to affect native bird communities, with small narrow reserves showing greatest native bird abundance and large narrow reserves showing the greatest native bird diversity. Successful breeding of the three study species was observed in reserves of all shape and size categories.