Dynamics of avian species and functional diversity in secondary tropical forests

Sayer, C.A.; Bullock, J.M.; Martin, P.A.. 2017 Dynamics of avian species and functional diversity in secondary tropical forests. Biological Conservation, 211 (A). 1-9.

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Deforestation for agriculture in the tropics, followed by abandonment, has resulted in large areas of secondary forest. Some authors have suggested that this secondary regrowth could help prevent mass extinction in the tropics by providing habitat for forest species. However, there is little generalised understanding of the biodiversity value of secondary forest. To address this knowledge gap, we conducted an analysis of avian responses to secondary forest succession, comparing data from 44 tropical secondary forest sites with nearby primary forest sites and investigating both species and functional diversity based metrics. Total species richness in secondary forests was 12% lower than in primary forests and was not related to secondary forest age. In contrast, forest specialist species richness increased with time since disturbance, reaching 99% of primary forest values after 100 years. In terms of functional diversity, functional dispersion (FDis) and functional divergence (FDiv) were similar in primary and secondary forests. However, functional evenness (FEve) was 5% higher in secondary than in primary forests. The standardized effect size of functional diversity (sesFD) was higher in young secondary forests than primary forests and declined with time since disturbance. Overall, these results suggest that secondary tropical forests can support provision of ecosystem services but that these services may be less stable in young forests. Therefore, secondary tropical forests, particularly older regrowth, have biodiversity value and can support important ecosystem functions. These secondary forests should be protected from further disturbance but preserving primary forest is vital for supporting overall and forest specialist species richness.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 0006-3207
Additional Keywords: forest recovery, birds, functional diversity, ecosystem functioning, avian biodiversity
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 11 Sep 2017 13:34 +0 (UTC)

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