Biodiversity and Conservation

, 18:3841 | Cite as

The effectiveness of a Mesoamerican ‘paper park’ in conserving cloud forest avifauna

Original Paper


Mesoamerican cloud forests are important centres of biodiversity, but are under severe pressure from anthropogenic activities. Protected areas have been established to conserve remaining areas of this habitat, but it is debatable how effective these under-resourced ‘paper parks’ are in preserving biodiversity. This study investigates this issue utilising species-level data, examining composition of avifaunal communities within an undermanaged cloud forest park. Research was conducted in the Parque Nacional Cusuco, North–West Honduras. Results indicate that overall avian species richness is greater in the less heavily protected buffer zone than the nominally inviolate core zone. However, core zone areas are shown to be effective in preserving threatened and range-restricted species. Results therefore demonstrate that buffer zone forest has a comparably reduced conservation value, but the overall park system appears to be effective in conserving the core zone. These findings should be taken into account when considering extensions to protected area networks in Mesoamerica.


Avifauna Biodiversity Cloud forest Protected areas 


  1. Achard F, Eva HD, Stibig H, Mayaux P, Gallego J, Richards T, Malingreau J (2002) Determination of deforestation rates of the worlds humid tropical forests. Science 297(5583):999–1002CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Aldrich M, Billington C, Edwards M, Laidlaw R (1997) Tropical montane cloud forests: an urgent priority for conservation. In: World conservation monitoring centre. Biodiversity bulletin no. 2. Cambridge WCMCGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson RS, Ashe JS (2000) Leaf litter inhabiting beetles as surrogates for establishing priorities for conservation of selected tropical montane cloud forest in Honduras, Central America (Coleoptera; Staphylinidae, Curculionidae). Biodivers Conserv 9(1):617–653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barlow J, Mestre LAM, Gardner TA, Peres CA (2007) The value of primary, secondary and plantation forests for Amazonian birds. Biol Conserv 136(2):212–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bhagawar SA, Kushalappa CG, Williams PH, Brown ND (2005) The role of informal protected areas in maintaining biodiversity in the western ghats of India. Ecol Soc 10(1)Google Scholar
  6. Bibby CJ, Burgess ND, Hill DA, Mustoe SH (2002) Bird census techniques, 2nd edn. Academic press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Birdlife International (2007)
  8. 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(2):304–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonta M (2005) Becoming forest, becoming local: transformations of a protected area in Honduras. Geoforum 36(1):95–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Borges SH (1999) Relative use of secondary forests by cracids in Central Amazonia. Ornithol Neotrop 10(1):77–80Google Scholar
  11. Brooks DM (2006) The utility of hotspot identification for forest management: cracids as bioindicators. Acta Zool Sin 52(suppl):199–201Google Scholar
  12. Brooks M, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB, Rylands AB, Konstant WR, Flick P, Pilgrim J, Oldfield S, Magin G, Hilton-Taylor C (2002) Habitat loss and extinction in the hotspots of biodiversity. Conserv Biol 16(4):909–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown N, Jennings S, Wheeler P, Nabe-Nielsen J (2000) An improved method for the rapid assessment of forest understorey light environments. J Appl Ecol 37(6):1044–1053CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bruner AG, Gullison RE, Rice RE, da Fonseca GAB (2001) Effectiveness of national parks in protecting tropical biodiversity. Science 291(5501):125–128CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Bubb P, May I, Miles L, Sayer J (2004) Cloud forest agenda. United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  16. Cayuela L, Golicher DJ, Rey-Benayas JM (2006) The extent, distribution and fragmentation of vanishing montane cloud forest in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Biotropica 38(4):544–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Colwell RK (2006) EstimateS: statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples, version 8.0.0. Users guide and application. Available from:
  18. Colwell RK, Coddington JA (1994) Estimating terrestrial biodiversity through extrapolation. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B 345:101–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Conservation International (2007) Biodiversity hotspots. Accessed 10/12/07
  20. Cracid Specialist Group (2007)
  21. Cruz G (1993) El decreto 87-87, ley de los bosques nublados, base legal para la conservacion del los bosques nublados de Honduras. Serie Miscelanea de CONSEFORH 23-5/93. ESNACIFOR. Siguatepeque, HondurasGoogle Scholar
  22. Curran LM, Trigg SN, McDonald AK, Astiani D, Hardiono YM, Siregar P, Caniago I, Kasischke E (2004) Lowland forest loss in protected areas of Indonesian Borneo. Science 303(5660):1000–1003CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Duffy SB, Corson MS, Grant WE (2001) Simulating land-use decisions in the la amistad biosphere reserve buffer zone in Costa Rica and Panama. Ecol Modell 140(1–2):9–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Eisermann K, Schulz U (2005) Birds of a high altitude cloud forest in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Rev Biol Trop 53(3–4):577–594PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Fundación Ecologista “Hector Rodrigo Pastor Fasquelle” (1994) Evaluación Ecológica Rápida (EER). Parque Nacional “El Cusuco” y Cordillera del Merendon. The Nature Conservancy and PACA (Proyecto Ambiental para Centro América)Google Scholar
  26. Gillison AN, Liswanti N, Rachman IA (1996) Rapid ecological assessment of kerinci seblat national park buffer zone. Centre for International Forestry Research, BogorGoogle Scholar
  27. Global Environment Facility (2005) Honduras biodiversity in priority areas project. Global Environment FacilityGoogle Scholar
  28. Greenberg R, Bichier P, Sterling J (1997) Bird populations in rustic and planted shade coffee plantations of Eastern Chiapas, Mexico. Biotropica 29(1):501–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Guariguata MR, Ostertag R (2001) Neotropical secondary forest succession: changes in structural and functional characteristics. For Ecol Manage 148(1–3):185–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Harris G, Pimm SL (2008) Range size and extinction risk in forest birds. Conserv Biol 22:163–171CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Howard PC, Viskanic P, Davenport TR, Kigenyi FW, Baltzer M, Dickinson CJ, Lwanga JS, Matthews RA, Balmford A (1998) Complementarity and the use of indicator groups for reserve selection in Uganda. Nature 394:472–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Howell SNG, Webb S (2005) A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern central America. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  33. Hughes JB, Daily GC, Ehrlich PR (2002) Conservation of tropical forest birds in countryside habitats. Ecol Lett 5(1):121–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List (2007)
  35. Jankowski JE, Rabenold KN (2007) Endemism and local rarity in birds of neotropical montane rainforest. Biol Conserv 138(3–4):453–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Joppa LN, Loarie SR, Pimm SL (2008) On the protection of protected areas. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:6673–6678CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Kestenbaum D (2002) Planning for the rapid development of community based ecotourism using action research: a project implemented in Rio Negro, Honduras. Centre for Rural Studies, International Development, pp 26–41Google Scholar
  38. Kramer R, van Schaik C, Johnson J (1997) Last stand: protected areas and the defense of tropical biodiversity. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  39. Laurance WF (1999) Reflections on the tropical deforestation crisis. Biol Conserv 91(2–3):109–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lee DC, Marsden SJ (2008) Adjusting count period strategies to improve the accuracy of forest bird abundance estimates from point transect distance sampling surveys. Ibis 150:315–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lee TM, Sodhi NS, Prawiradilaga DM (2007) The importance of protected areas for the forest and endemic avifauna of Sulawesi (Indonesia). Ecol Appl 17:1727–1741CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Lenkh CAM (2005) Cusuco forest management report. Operation WallaceaGoogle Scholar
  43. Li W, Wang Z, Tang H (1999) Designing the buffer zone of a nature reserve: a case study in Yancheng Biosphere Reserve, China. Biol Conserv 90(3):159–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Liu J, Linderman M, Ouyang Z, An L, Yang J, Zhang H (2001) Ecological degradation in protected areas: the case of wolong nature reserve for giant pandas. Science 292(5514):98–101CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Lynch JF (2005) Effects of point-count duration, time of day, and aural stimuli on detectability of migratory and resident bird species in Quintana Roo, Mexico. In: Ralph CJ, Sauer JR, Droege S (eds) Monitoring bird populations by point-counts. USDA forest service, pp 1–6, General technical reportGoogle Scholar
  46. Marsden SJ (1999) Estimation of parrot and hornbill densities using point count distance sampling method. Ibis 141(3):377–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Martin TE, Blackburn GA (2009) Impacts of tropical forest disturbance upon avifauna on a small island with high endemism: implications for conservation (in press)Google Scholar
  48. Mckinney ML (1997) Extinction vulnerability and selectivity: combining ecological and paleontological views. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 28:495–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mejia DA (2001) Honduras. In: Kappelle M, Brown AD (eds) Bosques nublados del neotropica. Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa RicaGoogle Scholar
  50. Munroe DK, Nagendra H, Southworth J (2007) Monitoring landscape fragmentation in an inaccessible mountain area: Celaque National Park, Western Honduras. Landsc Urban Plan 83(2–3):154–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Myers N, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB, Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403(1):853–858CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Navarro SAG (1992) Altitudinal distribution of birds in the Sierra Madre Del Sur, Guerrero, Mexico. Condor 94:29–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Nawaz R, Garson P, Malik M (2001) Monitoring pheasant populations in montane forest: some lessons learnt from the Pakistan galliformes project. Galliformes 2000: Proceedings of the 2nd international galliformes symposium, pp 196–203Google Scholar
  54. Operation Wallacea (2007) Cusuco 2007 field report. Operation WallaceaGoogle Scholar
  55. Peres CA, Palacios E (2007) Basin-wide effects of game harvest on vertebrate population densities in Amazonian forests: implications for animal-mediated seed-dispersal. Biotropica 39(3):304–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Peres CA, Terborgh JW (1995) Amazonian nature reserves: an analysis of the defensibility status of exisiting conservation units and design criteria for the future. Conserv Biol 9(1):34–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Peterson AT, Flores-Villela OA, Leon-Paniagua LS, Llorente-Bousquets JE, Luis-Martinez MA, Navarro-Siguenza AG, Torres-Chavez MG, Vargas-Fernandez I (1993) Conservation priorities in Mexico: moving up in the world. Biodivers Lett 1(1):33–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pfeffer MJ, Schelhas JW, Day LA (2001) Forest conservation, value conflict and interest formation in a Honduran national park. Cornell University, Ithaca reportGoogle Scholar
  59. Pfeffer MJ, Schelhas JW, Degloria SD, Gomez J (2005) Population, conservation and land use change in Honduras. Agric Ecosyst Environ 110(1–2):14–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Powell G, Bjork R (1995) Implications of intratropical migration on reserve design: a case study using Pharomachrus mocinno. Conserv Biol 9(2):354–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Powell G, Palminteri S (2001) Central American montane forest. World wildlife fund.
  62. Price J (2006) Gauging the ecological health of a Costa Rican cloud forest; birds as bioindicators. Eukaryon 2(1):104–109Google Scholar
  63. Rainforest Alliance (2008) A summary: El imposible national park, El salvador. Rainforest alliance, New York.
  64. Renjifo LM, Servat GP, Goerck JM, Loiselle BA, Blake JG (1997) Patterns of species composition and endemism in the Northern Neotropics: a case for conservation in montane avifaunas. In: Remsen JV (ed) Studies in neotropical ornithology honouring ted parker. Ornithological Monographs 48:577–594Google Scholar
  65. Renner SC (2005a) The mountain guan (Penelopina nigra) in the Sierra Yalijux, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Ornithol Neotrop 16(1):419–426Google Scholar
  66. Renner SC (2005b) The resplendent quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) in the Sierra Yalijux, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. J Ornithol 146(1):79–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Reyes J, Cruz GA (1994) El Sistema Nacional de areas protegidas de Honduras. In: Vega A (ed) Corredores conservacionistas en la region Centroamericana: memorias de una conferencia regional auspiciada por el proyecto paseo pantera. Tropical Research and Development Inc., FloridaGoogle Scholar
  68. Rodriguez JP, Rodriguez-Clark KM (2001) Even ‘Paper Parks’ are important. Trends Ecol Evol 16(1): 17Google Scholar
  69. Sanchez-Gonzalez A, Lopez-Mata L (2005) Plant species richness and diversity along an altitudinal gradient in the Sierra Nevada, Mexico. Divers Distrib 11:567–575Google Scholar
  70. Schulze CH, Waltert M, Kessler PJA, Shabuddin RP, Veddeler D, Muhlenberg M, Gradstein S, Leuschner C, Steffan-Dewenter I, Tscharntke T (2004) Biodiversity indicator groups of tropical land-use systems; comparing plants, birds and insects. Ecol Appl 14(5):1321–1333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sodhi NS, Koh LP, Prawiradilaga DM, Tinulele I, Putra DD, Han Tan Tong T (2005) Land use and conservation value for forest birds in central Sulawesi. Biol Conserv 122(3):547–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Solorzano S, Castillo S, Valverde T, Avila L (2000) Quetzal abundance in relation to fruit availability in a cloud forest in southeastern Mexico. Biotropica 32(3):523–532Google Scholar
  73. Solorzano S, Castillo-Santiago MA, Navarrete-Guiterrez DA, Oyama K (2003) Impact of the loss of neotropical highland forests on the species distribution: a case study using resplendent quetzal an endangered bird species. Biol Conserv 114(3):341–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Southworth J, Nagendra H, Carlson LA, Tucker C (2004) Assessing the impact of Celaque national park on forest fragmentation in Western Honduras. Appl Geogr 24(4):303–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Stattersfield AJ, Crosby MJ, Long AJ, Wege DC (1998) Endemic bird areas of the world. Birdlife International, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  76. Stiles FG, Skutch AF, Gardner D (1990) A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  77. Stotz DF, Fitzpatrick JW, Parker TA, Moskovits DK (1996) Neotropical birds. Ecology and conservation. University Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  78. Struhsaker TT, Struhsaker PJ, Siex KS (2005) Conserving Africa’s rainforest: problems in protected areas and possible solutions. Biol Conserv 123(1):45–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Vreugdenhill D, House PR, Cerrato CA, Martinez RA, Pereira AC (2002) Rationalism of the protected areas system of Honduras. Volume 1: main study. World Institute for conservation and Environment, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  80. Waide RB, Wunderle JM (1987) Changes in habitats available to migrant land birds. Unpublished interim report submitted to World Wildlife FundGoogle Scholar
  81. Waltert M, Mardiastuti A, Muhlenberg M (2004) Effects of land use on bird species richness in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Conserv Biol 18(5):1339–1346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wheelwright NT (1983) Fruit and ecology of resplendent quetzals. Auk 100(1):286–301Google Scholar
  83. Wijesinghe MR, Brooke M (2004) What causes the vulnerability of endemic animals? A case study from Sri Lanka. J Zool 263(1):135–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Wilson LD, McCranie JR (2003) The herptofauna of the cloud forests of Honduras. Amphib Reptile Conserv 3(1):34–48Google Scholar
  85. Wunderle JM (1994) Census methods for caribbean land birds. United States Department of Agriculture, New OrleansGoogle Scholar
  86. Zahawi RA (2005) Establishment and growth of living fence species: an overlooked tool for the restoration of degraded areas in the tropics. Restor Ecol 13(1):92–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Zar JH (1999) Biostatistical analysis, 4th edn. Prentice-Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Edward Martin
    • 1
    • 2
  • George Alan Blackburn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geography, Lancaster Environment CentreLancaster UniversityLancasterUK
  2. 2.Operation Wallacea LtdOld Bolingbroke, SpilsbyUK

Personalised recommendations