Connecting backyard wildlife habitats in Austin, TX : case study of Wildlife Austin
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Urbanization is considered one of the leading threats to biodiversity and wildlife habitat (McKinney 2002; Shochat et al. 2006). Urban environments are humandominated systems, yet they support wildlife habitat and provide meaningful ecological functions. Methods to conserve biodiversity and minimize habitat loss and fragmentation in urban environments include utilizing private residential yards and gardens to enhance habitat connectivity. Private residential yards or gardens designed to attract and support wildlife are known as backyard habitats and wildlife gardens. The City of Austin, Texas initiated Wildlife Austin in 2007. Wildlife Austin coordinates backyard habitats in Austin as a National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat [trademark]. My research analyzes the goals of the Wildlife Austin from the perspective of landscape ecology and urban ecology; reviews research related to backyard habitats in order to identify ways of enhancing habitat connectivity for bird communities; and provides recommendations for a more scientifically grounded approach and management in the promotion of backyard wildlife habitat.