Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 1251–1265

Comparing bird assemblages in large and small fragments of the Atlantic Forest hotspots

  • Alejandro R. Giraudo
  • Silvia D. Matteucci
  • Julián Alonso
  • Justo Herrera
  • Raúl R. Abramson
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10531-007-9309-9

Cite this article as:
Giraudo, A.R., Matteucci, S.D., Alonso, J. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2008) 17: 1251. doi:10.1007/s10531-007-9309-9


The Atlantic Forest (AF) is one of the five most threatened and megadiverse world hotspots. It is arguably the most devastated and highly threatened ecosystem on the planet. The vast scope of habitat loss and extreme fragmentation in the AF hotspots has left intact very few extensive and continuous forested fragments. We compared bird assemblages between small (<100 ha) and large (>6,000 ha) forest remnants, in one of the largest AF remnants in Argentina. We performed 84 point-counts of birds in four large fragments (LF) and 67 points in 25 small fragments (SF). We recorded 4,527 bird individuals belonging to 173 species; 2,632 belonging to 153 species in LF and 1,897 in 124 species in SF. Small fragments suffered a significant loss of bird richness, mainly forest dependent species, but the birds abundance did not decrease, due to an increase in abundance of forest independent and semi-dependent bird species (edge and non forest species) that benefit from forest fragmentation. The bird guilds of frugivores, undestory, terrestrial and midstory insectivores, nectarivores and raptors, and the endemic species of AF were area sensitive, decreasing significantly in richness and abundance in the SF. Terrestrial granivores were the only guild positively affected by forest fragmentation, containing mainly edge species, which forage in open areas or borders including crops. Our first observations on fragmentation effects on bird assemblages in the southernmost Argentinean Atlantic Forests did not validate the hypothesis on pre-adaptation to human disturbances in the bird communities of AF. On the contrary, we observed that forest dependent, endemic and several sensitive bird guilds were strongly affected by fragmentation, putting in evidence the vulnerability to the fragmentation process and the necessity to conserve large remnants to avoid reduction of the high biodiversity of AF birds.


Atlantic ForestFragmentationBirdsArgentina

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandro R. Giraudo
    • 1
  • Silvia D. Matteucci
    • 2
  • Julián Alonso
    • 3
  • Justo Herrera
    • 4
  • Raúl R. Abramson
    • 5
  1. 1.Instituto Nacional de Limnología (CONICET, UNL), FHUC (UNL)Santo ToméArgentina
  2. 2.National Research CouncilGEPAMA, UBABuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Parque Nacional Pre-DeltaDiamanteArgentina
  4. 4.Parque Nacional IguazúIguazuArgentina
  5. 5.Parque Provincial Salto Encantado del Valle del CuñapirúMinisterio de Ecología de MisionesAristóbulo del ValleArgentina