, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 907-918
Date: 14 Jun 2009

Is bird incidence in Atlantic forest fragments influenced by landscape patterns at multiple scales?

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Abstract

The degree to which habitat fragmentation affects bird incidence is species specific and may depend on varying spatial scales. Selecting the correct scale of measurement is essential to appropriately assess the effects of habitat fragmentation on bird occurrence. Our objective was to determine which spatial scale of landscape measurement best describes the incidence of three bird species (Pyriglena leucoptera, Xiphorhynchus fuscus and Chiroxiphia caudata) in the fragmented Brazilian Atlantic forest and test if multi-scalar models perform better than single-scalar ones. Bird incidence was assessed in 80 forest fragments. The surrounding landscape structure was described with four indices measured at four spatial scales (400-, 600-, 800- and 1,000-m buffers around the sample points). The explanatory power of each scale in predicting bird incidence was assessed using logistic regression, bootstrapped with 1,000 repetitions. The best results varied between species (1,000-m radius for P. leucoptera; 800-m for X. fuscus and 600-m for C. caudata), probably due to their distinct feeding habits and foraging strategies. Multi-scale models always resulted in better predictions than single-scale models, suggesting that different aspects of the landscape structure are related to different ecological processes influencing bird incidence. In particular, our results suggest that local extinction and (re)colonisation processes might simultaneously act at different scales. Thus, single-scale models may not be good enough to properly describe complex pattern–process relationships. Selecting variables at multiple ecologically relevant scales is a reasonable procedure to optimise the accuracy of species incidence models.