Long-term monitoring reveals an avian species credit in secondary forest patches of Costa Rica

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Authors Steven C. Latta, Nathan L. Brouwer, A Olivieri, Julie Girard-Woolley, J. F. Richardson
Journal/Conference Name PeerJ
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Paper Abstract Degraded and secondary forests comprise approximately 50% of remaining tropical forest. Bird community characteristics and population trends in secondary forests are infrequently studied, but secondary forest may serve as a "safety net" for tropical biodiversity. Less understood is the occurrence of time-delayed, community-level dynamics such as an extinction debt of specialist species or a species credit resulting from the recolonization of forest patches by extirpated species. We sought to elucidate patterns and magnitudes of temporal change in avian communities in secondary forest patches in Southern Costa Rica biannually over a 10 year period during the late breeding season and mid-winter. We classified birds caught in mist nets or recorded in point counts by residency status, and further grouped them based on preferred habitat, sensitivity to disturbance, conservation priority, foraging guild, and foraging strata. Using hierarchical, mixed-effects models we tested for trends among species that share traits. We found that permanent-resident species increased over time relative to migrants. In both seasons, primary forest species generally increased while species typical of secondary forest, scrub, or edge declined. Species relatively sensitive to habitat disturbance increased significantly over time, whereas birds less sensitive to disturbance decreased. Similarly, generalists with higher habitat breadth scores declined. Because, we found very few changes in vegetation characteristics in secondary forest patches, shifts in the avian community toward primary forest species represent a species credit and are likely related to vegetation changes in the broader landscape. We suggest that natural regeneration and maturation of secondary forests should be recognized as a positive conservation development of potential benefit even to species typical of primary forest.
Date of publication 2017
Code Programming Language R
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