Effects of Habitat Structure and Adjacent Habitats on Birds in Tropical Rainforest Fragments and Shaded Plantations in the Western Ghats, India
Article Received: 31 August 2004 Accepted: 04 August 2005 Abstract
As large nature reserves occupy only a fraction of the earth’s land surface, conservation biologists are critically examining the role of private lands, habitat fragments, and plantations for conservation. This study in a biodiversity hotspot and endemic bird area, the Western Ghats mountains of India, examined the effects of habitat structure, floristics, and adjacent habitats on bird communities in shade-coffee and cardamom plantations and tropical rainforest fragments. Habitat and birds were sampled in 13 sites: six fragments (three relatively isolated and three with canopy connectivity with adjoining shade-coffee plantations and forests), six plantations differing in canopy tree species composition (five coffee and one cardamom), and one undisturbed primary rainforest control site in the Anamalai hills. Around 3300 detections of 6000 individual birds belonging to 106 species were obtained. The coffee plantations were poorer than rainforest in rainforest bird species, particularly endemic species, but the rustic cardamom plantation with diverse, native rainforest shade trees, had bird species richness and abundance comparable to primary rainforest. Plantations and fragments that adjoined habitats providing greater tree canopy connectivity supported more rainforest and fewer open-forest bird species and individuals than sites that lacked such connectivity. These effects were mediated by strong positive effects of vegetation structure, particularly woody plant variables, cane, and bamboo, on bird community structure. Bird community composition was however positively correlated only to floristic (tree species) composition of sites. The maintenance or restoration of habitat structure and (shade) tree species composition in shade-coffee and cardamom plantations and rainforest fragments can aid in rainforest bird conservation in the regional landscape.
Keywords Agriculture Anamalai hills Bird communities Cardamom Coffee Countryside biogeography Fragmentation Habitat structure and floristics Landscape matrix Tropical wet evergreen forest References Ali, S., Ripley, S.D. 1983Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan Oxford University Press Delhi Google Scholar Beehler, B.M., Raju, K.S.R.K., Ali, S. 1987 Avian use of man-disturbed forest habitats in the Eastern Ghats, India Ibis 129 197 211 Google Scholar Bibby, C.J., Burgess, N.D., Hill, D.A. 1992Bird Census Techniques Academic Press London Google Scholar BirdLife International 2001Threatened Birds of the World Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International Barcelona and Cambridge Google Scholar Bowman, D.M.J.S., Woinarski, J.C.Z., Sands, D.P.A., Wells, A., McShane, V.J. 1990 Slash-and-burn agriculture in the wet coastal lowlands of Papua New Guinea: response of birds, butterflies and reptiles J. Biogeogr. 17 227 239 CrossRef Google Scholar Brown, J.H., Kodric-Brown, A. 1977 Turnover rates in insular biogeography: effect of immigration on extinction Ecology 58 445 449 CrossRef Google Scholar Brown, S., Lugo, A.E. 1990 Tropical secondary forests J. Trop. Ecol. 6 1 32 CrossRef Google Scholar Cincotta, R.P., Wisnewski, J., Engelman, R. 2000 Human population in the biodiversity hotspots Nature 404 990 992 PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar Clarke, K.R., Gorley, R.N. 2001Primer v5: User Manual/Tutorial PRIMER-E Plymouth Google Scholar Clarke, K.R., Warwick, R.M. 1994Change in Marine Communities: An Approach to Statistical Analysis and Interpretation Plymouth Marine Laboratory Plymouth Google Scholar Coffee Board 2001Database on Coffee Coffee Board Bangalore Google Scholar Collar, N.J., Crosby, M.J., Stattersfield, A.J. 1994Birds to Watch 2: The World list of Threatened Birds BirdLife International Cambridge Google Scholar
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