Spatial and temporal changes in bird assemblages in forest fragments in an eastern Amazonian savannah
Wiley -- Ecology and Evolution
DOI 10.1002/ece3.700
  1. Brazilian Amazonia
  2. forest bird assemblage
  3. old-growth forest fragments
  4. savannah

We investigated the effects of forest fragmentation on bird assemblages in an Amazonian savannah landscape with forest fragments that have been isolated for more than 100 years. The study was conducted in areas surrounding the village of Alter do Chão (2°31'S, 55°00'W), Santarém, Brazil. Bird surveys and measurements of tree density were undertaken in 25 areas, with 19 plots in forest fragments of different sizes and six in an area of continuous forest. Data on forest-fragment size, perimeter, and isolation were obtained from a georeferenced satellite image. Variation in number of bird species recorded per plot was not related to vegetation structure (tree density). The number of bird species recorded per plot increased significantly only with fragment area, but was not influenced by fragment shape or degree of isolation, even when considering species from the savannah matrix in the analysis. Fragments had fewer rare species. Multivariate ordination analyses (multiple dimensional scaling, [MDS]) indicated that bird species composition changed along a gradient from small to large forest fragments and continuous-forest areas. In the Amazonian savannah landscapes of Alter do Chão, the organization and composition of bird assemblages in forest fragments are affected by local long-term forest-fragmentation processes. Differences in the number of bird species recorded per plot and assemblage composition between forest fragments and continuous forest were not influenced by forest structure, suggesting that the observed patterns in species composition result from the effects of fragmentation per se rather than from preexisting differences in vegetation structure between sites. Nevertheless, despite their long history of isolation, the forest fragments still preserve a large proportion (on average 80%) of the avifauna found in continuous-forest areas. The fragments at Alter do Chão are surrounded by natural (rather than planted) grassland, with many trees in the savannah matrix and the landscape has vast areas covered by forest, which may have helped to ameliorate the influences of forest fragmentation.