Landscape Ecology

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 407–417 | Cite as

Landscape perception by forest understory birds in the Atlantic Rainforest: black-and-white versus shades of grey

  • Miriam M. Hansbauer
  • Ilse Storch
  • Felix Knauer
  • Stefan Pilz
  • Helmut Küchenhoff
  • Zsolt Végvári
  • Rafael G. Pimentel
  • Jean Paul Metzger
Research Article


Even among forest specialists, species-specific responses to anthropogenic forest fragmentation may vary considerably. Some appear to be confined to forest interiors, and perceive a fragmented landscape as a mosaic of suitable fragments and hostile matrix. Others, however, are able to make use of matrix habitats and perceive the landscape in shades of grey rather than black-and-white. We analysed data of 42 Chiroxiphia caudata (Blue Manakin), 10 Pyriglena leucoptera (White-shouldered Fire-eye) and 19 Sclerurus scansor (Rufous-breasted Leaftosser) radio-tracked in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil between 2003 and 2005. We illustrate how habitat preferences may determine how species respond to or perceive the landscape structure. We compared available with used habitat to develop a species-specific preference index for each of six habitat classes. All three species preferred old forest, but relative use of other classes differed significantly. S. scansor perceived great contrast between old forest and matrix, whereas the other two species perceived greater habitat continuity. For conservation planning, our study offers three important messages: (1) some forest specialist species are able to persist in highly fragmented landscapes; (2) some forest species may be able to make use of different anthropogenic habitat types to various degrees; whereas (3) others are restricted to the remaining forest fragments. Our study suggests species most confined to forest interiors to be considered as potential umbrella species for landscape-scale conservation planning.


Brazil Forest fragmentation Habitat preference index Passerines Neotropical rainforest 



This study was supported by the German BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) that financed the program BIOCAPSP within the framework of the Brazilian-German cooperation “Mata Atlântica” (Förderkennzeichen 01LB0202 (Teilprojekt D3)), and by the Brazilian Council for Research and Technology (CNPq) (Project ‘Biodiversity conservation in fragmented landscapes on the Atlantic Plateau of São Paulo’, No. 590041/2006-1). We especially thank all our committed and patient field helpers for their invaluable help and their mental input. R. Iartelli arranged the catching permits and Leandro Tambosi digitized the aerial photographs of the northern part of the study area. For their valuable comments on the manuscript we thank Eric Gustafson and two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam M. Hansbauer
    • 1
  • Ilse Storch
    • 1
  • Felix Knauer
    • 1
  • Stefan Pilz
    • 2
  • Helmut Küchenhoff
    • 2
  • Zsolt Végvári
    • 3
  • Rafael G. Pimentel
    • 4
  • Jean Paul Metzger
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife Ecology and Management, Faculty of Forest and Environmental SciencesUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Statistical Consulting Unit, Department of StatisticsLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  3. 3.Department of Conservational ZoologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  4. 4.Department of EcologyUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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