Community Ecology

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 133–149 | Cite as

Foraging guild structure within a primaeval mixed forest bird assemblage: a comparison of two concepts

  • M. KorňanEmail author
  • P. Adamík


Two basic concepts of guild definition were developed in community ecology that enable simplification of complex communities or ecosystems into structural building blocks of species with similar niches. Root defined guild as a group of species utilising the same environmental resources by a similar foraging method. MacMahon et al. simplified the original definition even more by excluding a foraging method. This concept is focused on utilisation patterns of resources by species regardless the purpose of use. Our objectives were: (1) to test guild structure within a model ecosystem from matrices reflecting the differences between the two concepts, (2) to compare guild patterns detected by the two concepts, (3) to test whether the mixed forest ecosystem consists of significantly different groups of species representing deciduous and coniferous faunal elements. The study was conducted in a primeval beech-fir forest in NW Slovakia during 1997–2000. In total, 26 bird species were used for further numerical analyses. Two data matrices were constructed reflecting the differences between the two guild concepts. To statistically determine guild structure without arbitrary fusion criteria, a bootstrapped cluster analysis (UPGMA) of chord distances was employed to analyse the data matrices. Symmetric correspondence analysis (CA) was applied for extraction of eigenvectors responsible for the segregation of species into guilds. The classification proposed by Root produced two guild models at the levels of 6 or 9 group partitions at α = 0.10, while the classification following MacMahon et al. detected 7 guild types. The guild structures based on the two concepts were significantly different when tested by two-tailed Wilcoxon paired sample tests and the Monte Carlo among-cluster error sum of squares (SSQ) distance simulation test. Six out of the eight interpretable factors (75%) indicated analogous environmental gradients when comparing two CA ordinations. The most important environmental gradients were: (1) vertical foraging substrate — habitat structure, (2) water — terrestrial foraging substrate gradient, (3) spatial tree morphology, (4) terrestrial foraging substrate gradient, (5) arboreal — airspace gradient, and (6) mountain stream environmental gradient. We did not detect significantly different guilds for generalists and for coniferous and deciduous forest specialists.


A posteriori approach Bootstrap testing Cluster analysis Generalist species Guild concepts Ordination Specialist species Šrámková National Nature Reserve 


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2007

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Ecological StudiesVel’ké RovnéSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyPalacký University TřOlomoucCzech Republic

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