Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Birds are ubiquitous, intricately connected to habitat, sensitive to environmental changes and their presence can indicate ecosystem function. Situated along a major bird migration route, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) provides important stop-over habitat for migrating birds and foraging and nesting habitat for resident birds. Analysis of diversity, abundance and behavior reveals how the campus landscape provides essential habitat. Point-count surveys and area searches at representative habitat typologies on campus were conducted during migration and breeding seasons in 2018 and 2019. Systematic and incidental data collection resulted in 84 species from 34 families, with a total of 3,777 detections of birds recorded. As Penn’s Landscape Planner, I play a pivotal role in furthering the university’s sustainability goals and influencing landscape design and management on campus. This research establishes quantitative data that can define best practices and inform future landscape standards. Enhancing bird-friendly design guidelines and improving campus habitat and management strategies could have a broad impact on landscape connectivity and bird species richness. Future monitoring studies are recommended in order to quantify trends linking campus environmental health with bird species richness.



Date Posted: 02 March 2020