, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 173-190
Date: 22 Sep 2007

Bird communities in rainforest fragments: guild responses to habitat variables in Tabasco, Mexico

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Abstract

The effects of habitat loss and fragmentation in tropical forests are difficult to separate, as they usually occur concurrently. In the state park La Sierra, in Tabasco, Mexico, the rainforest is being cleared for pasture, and fragments are being used by local inhabitants. This study examined the response of bird feeding guilds to habitat characteristics, including human disturbance, in five fragments of different sizes (1 ∼ 4,500 ha, 2 ∼ 150 ha, and 2 ∼ 80 ha). Using point count observations, 125 species were recorded and were grouped into 11 feeding guilds. As expected, the largest fragment had higher species richness and abundances than the smaller fragments. However, five habitat features differed significantly among fragment sizes, including tree density, the number of tree stumps and the number of trails. Thus the larger fragment was also less disturbed. Fragment size alone was significant only for scavenger species richness, and for the abundance of bark gleaning insectivores and insectivore/nectarivores. Raptors were more diverse and abundant in the large fragment and less disturbed sites. Arboreal frugivores and bark or foliage gleaning insectivores, depended on higher trees and less disturbed sites. A better understanding of the mechanisms that affect persistence is essential for the planning of conservation actions.