Effects of forest fragmentation on nocturnal Asian birds: A case study from Xishuangbanna, China|
Dayananda, Salindra K.; Goodale, Eben; Lee, Myung-bok; Liu, Jia-Jia; Mammides, Christos; Pasion, Bonifacio O.; Quan, Rui-Chang; Slik, J. W. Ferry; Sreekar, Rachakonda; Tomlinson, Kyle W. & Yasuda, Mika
Owls have the potential to be keystone species for conservation in fragmented landscapes, as the absence of these predators could profoundly change community structure. Yet few studies have examined how whole communities of owls respond to fragmentation, especially in the tropics. When evaluating the effect of factors related to fragmentation, such as fragment area and distance to the edge, on these birds, it is also important in heterogeneous landscapes to ask how ‘location factors’ such as the topography, vegetation and soil of the fragment predict their persistence. In Xishuangbanna, southwest China, we established 43 transects (200 m×60 m) within 20 forest fragments to sample nocturnal birds, both visually and aurally. We used a multimodel inference approach to identify the factors that influence owl species richness, and generalized linear mixed models to predict the occurrence probabilities of each species. We found that fragmentation factors dominated location factors, with larger fragments having more species, and four of eight species were significantly more likely to occur in large fragments. Given the potential importance of these birds on regulating small mammal and other animal populations, and thus indirectly affecting seed dispersal, we suggest further protection of large fragments and programs to increase their connectivity to the remaining smaller fragments.
Forest fragmentation; Landscape ecology; Nocturnal birds; Owls; Trophic cascades