Bird assemblages in pine plantations replacing native ecosystems in NW Patagonia
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- Lantschner, M.V., Rusch, V. & Peyrou, C. Biodivers Conserv (2008) 17: 969. doi:10.1007/s10531-007-9243-x
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Forest plantations of exotic conifers represent an important economic activity in NW Patagonia, Argentina. However, there is a remarkable lack of information on the impact of forestry on native biodiversity. We analyzed the effect of Pinus ponderosa plantations on bird communities, considering different stand management practices (dense and sparse tree covers), and different landscape contexts where they are planted (Austrocedrus chilensis forest and steppe). Ultimately we wished to assess in which way plantations may be designed and managed to improve biodiversity conservation. Bird richness and abundance did not change significantly in the steppe, although community composition did, and was partially replaced by a new community, similar to that of ecotonal forests. In contrast, in the A. chilensis forest areas, species richness decreased in dense plantations, but bird community composition remained relatively constant when replacing the native forest with pine plantations. Also, in A. chilensis forest, stand management practices aiming at maintaining low tree densities permit the presence of many bird species from the original habitat. In the steppe area in turn, both dense and sparse plantations are unsuitable for most steppe species, thus it is necessary to manage them at higher scales, maintaining the connectivity of the native matrix to prevent the fragmentation of bird populations. We conclude that pine plantations can provide habitat for a substantial number of native bird species, and this feature varies both with management practices and with the landscape context of areas where afforestation occurs.