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Migratory bird use of shade coffee: the role of structural and floristic features

Abstract

Shade coffee plantations support high numbers of Neotropical migratory birds, but relatively little is known about the structural and floristic attributes used by individual species. From 2005 to 2007, we studied the relationship between habitat characteristics and Neotropical migratory birds in shade coffee plantations in the Venezuelan Andes. Our results indicate that density of migrants was significantly related to both structural and floristic attributes of coffee farms. Specifically, upper canopy foragers were positively associated with number of large trees (>38 cm dbh), tree canopy height, and understory vegetation density. Low canopy and ground foragers were positively associated with numbers of small (8–23 cm dbh) and medium (23–38 cm dbh) trees and increased shade cover. Moreover, certain tree species, especially Inga spp., Erythrina spp. and Acnistus arborescens, were important components of habitat for those species that forage in the canopy. For example, our detailed foraging observations showed that Inga trees were used in greater proportion than available throughout plantations by Cerulean Warblers (Dendroica cerulea), a species of high conservation concern. Overall, our research suggests that suitability of coffee plantations for migratory birds may be improved by managing for particular structural and floristic characteristics of plantations.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act), Office of International Affairs (The Ohio State University), Center for Latin American Studies (Tinker Foundation Field Research Grant), National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and Ohio Ornithological Society for providing financial support to this project. We thank La Mucuy Bird Observatory and grants from The Nature Conservancy, The James Baillie Memorial Fund, and Idea Wild for field equipment. Lisa Petit, Paul Rodewald, and Kendra McSweeney provided invaluable advice and direction throughout the course of the research. We thank Pablo Rangel and his family, Alejandro Vaźquez and Consuelo Arconadz at Posada Remanso del Quebradón, and Adeysa Paredes and Miguel Mollinari at Fundo Monteverde for giving us permission to work on their land, and Venezuela INPARQUES and Ministerio del Ambiente for granting the necessary research permits. We would also like to thank all the field assistants involved in data collection: Mario Zambrano, Roger Puente, Alexander Albornoz, Seth Beaudreault, and Deanna Dawson.

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Correspondence to Marja H. Bakermans.

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Bakermans, M.H., Rodewald, A.D., Vitz, A.C. et al. Migratory bird use of shade coffee: the role of structural and floristic features. Agroforest Syst 85, 85–94 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-011-9389-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-011-9389-0

Keywords

  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Habitat
  • Floristic
  • Foraging
  • Neotropical migratory birds
  • Shade coffee
  • Vegetation structure