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Landscape matrix and species traits mediate responses of Neotropical resident birds to forest fragmentation in Jamaica

Christina M. Kennedy, Peter P. Marra, William F. Fagan and Maile C. Neel
Ecological Monographs
Vol. 80, No. 4 (November 2010), pp. 651-669
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20787453
Page Count: 19
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Landscape matrix and species traits mediate responses of Neotropical resident birds to forest fragmentation in Jamaica
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Abstract

Land cover and land use surrounding fragmented habitat can greatly impact species persistence by altering resource availability, edge effects, or the movement of individuals throughout a landscape. Despite the potential importance of the landscape matrix, ecologists still have limited understanding of the relative effects of different types of land cover and land uses on species patterns and processes in natural systems. Here we investigated whether Neotropical resident bird communities in limestone forest patches differed if they were embedded in three different human-dominated matrix types (agriculture, peri-urban development, and bauxite mining) relative to sites in continuous forest in central Jamaica. We found that species richness, community composition, and abundances were matrix-dependent, with agricultural landscapes supporting greater avian diversity and more intact community assemblages than either peri-urban or bauxite landscapes. Abundance of almost 70% of species differed in forest embedded in the different landscape matrix types. Traits related to resource use best predicted species responses, including diet guild, nest height, habitat association, and foraging strata. Insectivores, frugivores, canopy nesters, understory and canopy foragers, and forest-restricted species rarely observed in matrix habitats had lower abundances in forest fragments embedded in human-dominated matrix types than in continuous forest. In contrast, nectarivores, omnivores, granivores, ground and multi-strata nesters, ground foragers, and species regularly in matrix habitats were least sensitive to forest fragmentation. Results suggest that structure, composition, and land use disturbance regimes in matrix areas impact overall habitat quality in landscapes by potentially mediating resource availability inside as well as outside forest habitat. This study reinforces the importance of differentiating among land cover and land uses in fragmentation research and lends support to the hypothesis that resource availability may be a primary factor driving Neotropical bird responses to fragmentation.

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