Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1131–1159 | Cite as

How resilient are Andean montane forest bird communities to habitat degradation?

Original paper

Abstract

The threatened forest habitats of the tropical Andes are reportedly being modified and destroyed 30% faster than their lowland tropical counterparts, but impacts on the hyper-diverse resident avifauna have received little systematic study. We present a baseline analysis of the effects of habitat modification on birds in a lower montane forest landscape in Ecuador, comparing avian community composition in landscape elements subjected to different levels of human modification: primary forest, secondary forest, edge habitat and agricultural land. We use data from a point count survey of 300 counts at 150 sites to test whether community composition and density of birds with different reported habitat preferences and foraging strategies change among landscape elements. Species richness and diversity were lowest in agricultural land, but on some measures, equally low in primary forest. Richness and diversity peaked in secondary forest and edge habitat, but ordination and density analysis revealed clear differences in their species composition. While secondary forest contained mostly forest-preferring species, edge habitat harboured a mix of forest and open-land birds. There was a clearly structured gradient in species composition across landscape elements, with densities of habitat specialists, foraging guilds and families varying considerably from primary forest to agricultural land. Agricultural land was characterised by an assemblage of widespread, abundant species very different from that in core forest habitats. As such, while the majority of montane forest birds appear resilient to a certain level of habitat modification, they cannot persist, and are displaced, where forest has been cleared outright. We argue that, for Andean montane forests, preservation of mature secondary forest offers flexibility in supplementing preserved primary forest areas to provide sufficient habitat for the persistence of this incredibly diverse but severely threatened bird community.

Keywords

Ecuador Human habitat modification Montane forest birds Population density Species richness 

References

  1. Andrade GI, Rubio-Torgler H (1994) Sustainable use of the tropical rain forest: evidence from the avifauna in a shifting cultivation habitat mosaic in the Colombian Amazon. Conserv Biol 8:545–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barlow J, Haugaasen T, Peres CA (2002) Effects of ground fires on understorey bird assemblages in Amazonian forests. Biol Conserv 105:157–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beier P, Van Drielen M, Kankam BO (2002) Avifaunal collapse in West African forest fragments. Conserv Biol 16:1097–1111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bibby CJ, Buckland ST (1987) Bias of bird census results due to detectability varying with habitat. Acta Oecol 8:103–112Google Scholar
  5. Bibby CJ, Burgess ND, Hill DA (2000) Bird census techniques. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Bierregaard RO, Dale VH (1996) Islands in an ever-changing sea: the ecological and socioeconomic dynamics of Amazonian rainforest fragments. In: Schelhas J, Greenberg R (eds) Forest patches in tropical landscapes. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp 187–204Google Scholar
  7. Blake JG, Loiselle BA (2001) Bird assemblages in second-growth and old-growth forests, Costa Rica: perspectives from mist nets and point counts. Auk 118:304–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brooks T, Balmford A, Burgess N, Hansen LA, Moore J, Rahbek C, Williams P, Bennun LA, Byaruhanga A, Kasoma P, Njoroge P, Pomeroy D, Wondafrash M (2001) Conservation priorities for birds and biodiversity: do East African important bird areas represent species diversity in other terrestrial vertebrate groups? Ostrich (suppl 15):3–12Google Scholar
  9. Brose U, Martinez ND, Williams RJ (2003) Estimating species richness: sensitivity to sample coverage and insensitivity to spatial patterns. Ecology 84:2364–2377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buckland ST, Anderson DR, Burnham KP, Laake JL, Borchers DL, Thomas L (2001) Introduction to distance sampling: estimating abundance of biological populations. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Bush MB (2002) Distribution change and conservation on the Andean flank: a palaeoecological perspective. Global Ecol Biogeogr 11:463–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Canaday C (1996) Loss of insectivorous birds along a gradient of human impact in Amazonia. Biol Conserv 77:63–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chao A (1984) Non-parametric estimation of the number of classes in a population. Scand J Stat 11:265–270Google Scholar
  14. Chao A, Chazdon RL, Colwell RK, Shen T-J (2005) A new statistical approach for assessing compositional similarity based on incidence and abundance data. Ecol Lett 8:148–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chazdon RL (2003) Tropical forest recovery: legacies of human impact and natural disturbances. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 6:51–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chiarucci A, Enright NJ, Perry GLW, Miller BP, Lamont BB (2003) Performance of nonparametric species richness estimators in a high diversity plant community. Divers Distrib 9:283–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Colwell RK (2005) EstimateS: statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples. Version 7.5. User’s guide and application published at: http://www.purl.oclc.org/estimates
  18. Colwell RK, Coddington JA (1994) Estimating terrestrial biodiversity through extrapolation. Philos Trans Roy Soc Lond Ser B 345:101–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cresswell W, Hughes M, Mellanby R, Bright S, Catry P, Chaves J, Freile J, Gabela A, Martineau H, Macleod R, McPhie F, Anderson N, Holt S, Barabas S, Chapel C, Sanchez T (1999) Densities and habitat preferences of Andean cloud-forest birds in pristine and degraded habitats in north-eastern Ecuador. Bird Conserv Int 9:129–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Daily GC, Ehrlich PR, Sanchez-Azofeifa GA (2001) Countryside biogeography: use of human-dominated habitats by the avifauna of southern Costa Rica. Ecol Appl 11:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dale S, Mork K, Solvang R, Plumptre AJ (2000) Edge effects on the understory bird community in a logged forest in Uganda. Conserv Biol 14:265–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Denevan WM (1992) The pristine myth – the landscape of the Americas in 1492. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 82:369–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dinerstein E, Olson DM, Graham DJ, Webster AL, Primm SA, Bookbinder MP, Ledec G (1995) A conservation assessment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  24. Dunn RR (2004) Recovery of faunal communities during tropical forest regeneration. Conserv Biol 18:302–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Duran SM, Kattan GH (2005) A test of the utility of exotic tree plantations for understorey birds and food resources in the Colombian Andes. Biotropica 37:129–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. FAO (2001) State of the world’s forests 2001. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  27. Fjeldså J (1994) Geographical patterns for relict and young species of birds in Africa and South America and implications for conservation priorities. Biodivers Conserv 3:207–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fjeldså J, Lambin E, Mertens B (1999) Correlation between endemism and local ecoclimatic stability documented by comparing Andean bird distributions and remotely sensed land surface data. Ecography 22:63–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gascon C, Lovejoy TE, Bierregaard RO, Malcolm JR, Stouffer PC, Vasconcelos HL, Laurance WF, Zimmerman B, Tocher M, Borges S (1999) Matrix habitat and species richness in tropical forest remnants. Biol Conserv 91:223–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gentry AH (1986) Species richness and floristic composition of the Choco region plant communities. Caldasia 15:71–79Google Scholar
  31. Gillespie TW, Walter H (2001) Distribution of bird species richness at a regional scale in tropical dry forest of Central America. J Biogeogr 28:651–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Greenberg R, Bichier P, Angon AC (2000) The conservation value for birds of cacao plantations with diverse planted shade in Tabasco, Mexico. Anim Conserv 3:105–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Herzog SK, Kessler M, Cahill TM (2002) Estimating species richness of tropical bird communities from rapid assessment data. Auk 119:749–769CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hiby L, Krishna MB (2001) Line transect sampling from a curving path. Biometrics 57:727–731CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Hill MO (1979) DECORANA: a FORTRAN program for detrended correspondence analysis and reciprocal averaging. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  36. Holdridge LR, Grenke WC, Hatheway WH, Liang T, Tosi JA Jr (1971) Forest environments in tropical life zones: a pilot study. Pergamon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  37. Johns AD (1991) Responses of Amazonian rain-forest birds to habitat modification. J Trop Ecol 7:417–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jongman RHG, ter Braak CJF, van Tongeren OFR (1995) Data analysis in community and landscape ecology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kattan GH, Alvarez-Lopez H (1996) Preservation and management of biodiversity in fragmented landscapes in the Colombian Andes. In: Schelhas J, Greenberg R (eds) Forest patches in tropical landscapes. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp 3–18Google Scholar
  40. Kattan GH, Beltran JW (2002) Rarity in antpittas: territory size and population density of five Grallaria spp. in a regenerating habitat mosaic in the Andes of Colombia. Bird Conserv Int 12:231–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kattan GH, Franco P (2004) Bird diversity along elevational gradients in the Andes of Colombia: area and mass effects. Global Ecol Biogeogr 13:451–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kattan GH, Alvarez-Lopez H, Giraldo M (1994) Forest fragmentation and bird extinctions – San-Antonio 80 years later. Conserv Biol 8:138–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Keating KA, Quinn JF, Ivie MA, Ivie LL (1998) Estimating the effectiveness of further sampling in species inventories. Ecol Appl 8:1239–1249Google Scholar
  44. Laurance WF, Albernaz AKM, Schroth G, Fearnside PM, Bergen S, Venticinque EM, Da Costa C (2002a) Predictors of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. J Biogeogr 29:737–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Laurance WF, Lovejoy TE, Vasconcelos HL, Bruna EM, Didham RK, Stouffer PC, Gascon C, Bierregaard RO, Laurance SG, Sampaio E (2002b) Ecosystem decay of Amazonian forest fragments: a 22-year investigation. Conserv Biol 16:605–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Leopold A (1933) Game management. C. Scribner’s Sons, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. Loiselle BA, Blake JG (1991) Resource abundance and temporal variation in fruit-eating birds along a wet forest elevational gradient in Costa Rica. Ecology 72:180–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Luck GW (2002) The habitat requirements of the rufous treecreeper (Climacteris rufa). 1. Preferential habitat use demonstrated at multiple spatial scales. Biol Conserv 105:383–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Magurran AE (1988) Ecological diversity and its measurement. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  50. Marsden SJ, Whiffin M, Sadgrove L, Guimaraes P (2000) Parrot populations and habitat use in and around two lowland Atlantic forest reserves, Brazil. Biol Conserv 96:209–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Melo AS, Rodrigo AS, Santos AJ, Shepherd GJ, Machado G, Medeiros HF, Saways RJ (2003) Comparing species richness among assemblages using sample units: why not use extrapolation methods to standardize different sample sizes? Oikos 101:398–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Moore JV, Coopmans P, Ridgely RS, Lysinger M (1999) The birds of northwest Ecuador. Volume I: the upper foothills and subtropics. John V. Moore Nature Recordings, San Jose, CAGoogle Scholar
  53. Myers N, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB, Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853–858CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Naidoo R (2004) Species richness and community composition of songbirds in a tropical forest-agricultural landscape. Anim Conserv 7:93–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. O’Dea N, Watson JEM, Whittaker RJ (2004) Rapid assessment in conservation research: a critique of avifaunal assessment techniques illustrated by Ecuadorian and Madagascan case study data. Divers Distrib 10:55–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pisces Conservation (2002) Species diversity and richness. Pisces Conservation Limited, LymingtonGoogle Scholar
  57. Rahbek C, Graves GR (2001) Multiscale assessment of patterns of avian species richness. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:4534–4539CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Raman TRS, Sukumar R (2002) Responses of tropical rainforest birds to abandoned plantations, edges and logged forest in the Western Ghats, India. Anim Conserv 5:201–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Remsen JV, Good DA (1996) Misuse of data from mist-net captures to assess relative abundance in bird populations. Auk 113:381–398Google Scholar
  60. Renjifo LM (1999) Composition changes in a subandean avifauna after long-term forest fragmentation. Conserv Biol 13:1124–1139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Renjifo LM (2001) Effect of natural and anthropogenic landscape matrices on the abundance of subandean bird species. Ecol Appl 11:14–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rhoades CC, Coleman DC (1999) Nitrogen mineralization and nitrification following land conversion in montane Ecuador. Soil Biol Biochem 31:1347–1354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ridgely RS, Greenfield PJ (2001) The birds of Ecuador. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  64. Schieck J (1997) Biased detection of bird vocalizations affects comparisons of bird abundance among forested habitats. Condor 99:179–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sekercioglu CH (2002) Effects of forestry practices on vegetation structure and bird community of Kibale National Park, Uganda. Biol Conserv 107:229–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sekercioglu CH, Ehrlich PR, Daily GC, Aygen D, Goehring D, Sandi RF (2002) Disappearance of insectivorous birds from tropical forest fragments. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99:263–267CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Stattersfield AJ, Crosby MJ, Long AJ, Wege DC (1998) Endemic bird areas of the world: priorities for biodiversity conservation. BirdLife International, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  68. Stouffer PC, Bierregaard RO (1995a) Effects of forest fragmentation on understory hummingbirds in Amazonian Brazil. Conserv Biol 9:1085–1094CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Stouffer PC, Bierregaard RO (1995b) Use of Amazonian forest fragments by understory insectivorous birds. Ecology 76:2429–2445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. ter Braak CJF, Smilauer P (2002) Canoco for Windows. Biometris – Plant Research International, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  71. Thiollay JM (1992) Influence of selective logging on bird species-diversity in a Guianan rain-forest. Conserv Biol 6:47–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Thiollay JM (1995) The role of traditional agroforests in the conservation of rain-forest bird diversity in Sumatra. Conserv Biol 9:335–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Thiollay JM (1997) Disturbance, selective logging and bird diversity: a neotropical forest study. Biodivers Conserv 6:1155–1173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Thiollay JM (1999) Responses of an avian community to rain forest degradation. Biodivers Conserv 8:513–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Toral E, Feinsinger P, Crump ML (2002) Frogs and a cloud-forest edge in Ecuador. Conserv Biol 16:735–744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. van Rensburg BJ, Chown SL, van Jaarsveld AS, McGeoch MA (2000) Spatial variation and biogeography of sand forest avian assemblages in South Africa. J Biogeogr 27:1385–1401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Walther BA, Martin JL (2001) Species richness estimation of bird communities: how to control for sampling effort? Ibis 143:413–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Watson JEM, Whittaker RJ, Dawson TP (2004) Habitat structure and proximity to forest edge affect the abundance and distribution of forest-dependent birds in tropical coastal forests of southeastern Madagascar. Biol Conserv 120:311–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Watson JEM, Whittaker RJ, Freudenberger D (2005) Bird community responses to habitat fragmentation: how consistent are they across landscapes? J Biogeogr 32:1353–1370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Welford MR (2000) The importance of early successional habitats to rare, restricted-range, and endangered birds in the Ecuadorian Andes. Bird Conserv Int 10:351–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Whitman AA, Hagan JM, Brokaw NVL (1997) A comparison of two bird survey techniques used in a subtropical forest. Condor 99:955–965CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Willis KJ, Gillson L, Brncic TM (2004) How ‘virgin’ is virgin rainforest? Science 304:402–403CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biodiversity Research Group, Centre for the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations