Urban bird trends in a rapidly growing tropical city

Long-term studies of urban birds are relatively scarce, especially in Africa. We analysed trends in species richness and bird species occurrence over a 32-year period in Kampala, Uganda, in order to assess changes in the bird community in a period that has shown rapid expansion of the city's human population. Given that species may respond to urbanisation according to their diet, we also analysed bird community trends of species groups defined according to predominant diet. There was an overall decline in species richness that was largely driven by declines in insectivores and granivores. General declines were evident also when the trends in the most common individual species in these two groups were considered. The occurrence of the commonest predator and scavenger species tended to increase over the period considered. Insectivorous species are likely to be especially affected by increasing urbanisation due to air pollution. Predators and scavengers are likely to have benefitted from the inability of municipal waste management to keep pace with growth in the human population, hence providing more potential food resources. Both insectivores and predators/scavengers are therefore good candidates for the development of urban indicators.