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Community Ecology
Authors: R. J. Pakeman, R. J. Pakeman, S. A. Hinsley, S. A. Hinsley, P. E. Bellamy, and P. E. Bellamy

309 322 Wiens, J.A. 1989: The Ecology of Bird Communities. Volume 1. Foundations and Pattern. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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783 Zurita, G.A. and Bellocq, M.I. 2010. Spatial patterns of bird community similarity: bird responses to landscape composition and configuration in the Atlantic forest. Landscape Ecol . 25

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Community Ecology
Authors: C. Battisti, G. Fanelli, D. Pavel, L. Redolfi De Zan, S. Rossi de Gasperis, and G. Caneva

We tested the application of the concept of hemeroby and generalism at community level, on a set of birds occurring in various habitats of central Italy characterized by different level of disturbance. In each habitat-related bird community, we applied the recently published species-specific score in hemeroby (a proxy of habitat-related disturbance; HSi) and hemerobiotic diversity (a proxy of generalism; H’Hi) to local species frequency, obtaining weighted values at community level (HStot and H’Htot). The relationship between HStot vs. H’Htot showed an increasing trend moving from reed beds through forests and mosaics to urban communities. Quadratic model (best fit) evidenced a significant correlation between these variables and a tendency toward a hump-shaped curve, corroborating results already observed at species level (intermediate generalism hypothesis). The co-inertia analysis discriminated four groups of habitat-related communities, characterized by species with different levels of disturbance-sensitivity (expressed by HSi) and generalism (expressed by hemerobiotic diversity; H’Hi): (i) forest type-related, where mature wood communities were separated from a coppiced wood one; (ii) communities of moderately disturbed agricultural habitats; (iii) communities embedded in highly disturbed mosaics, and (iv) a group including either a highly disturbed urban habitat or a low disturbed wetland reed bed, with highly specialized species (respectively, synanthropic species and water-related species). Total scores in hemeroby and hemerobiotic diversity, expressing the composition in species with different disturbance preference and generalism, might act as good community-based indicators of degree of naturalness, especially for forest habitat types.

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Land abandonment is a widespread phenomenon in agricultural systems, especially in former communist countries of Eastern and South-eastern Europe. Moreover, Croatia was affected by acts of war which enhanced the depopulation of marginal areas impelling further land abandonment. Agricultural landscapes in Croatia are highly parcelled with various proportions of forest habitats due to traditional smallholder farming systems. Secondary successions as a consequence of land abandonment affect farmland birds that are among the most endangered bird species in Europe. We examined bird communities along a habitat gradient in heterogeneous agricultural landscapes. We used the share of woody vegetation cover as a proxy measure for land abandonment that we classified in four classes. Our results showed no significant Shannon Wiener Index differences of bird communities along the land abandonment gradient. However, there were differences in abundances when we examined bird guilds such as farmland, forest and “other” birds separately. However, the conservation value of each of the four land abandonment classes did not show significant differences. We extracted single bird species such as the Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio), Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) and European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) as potential indicator species for the four examined land abandonment levels. With these four species we successfully modelled the distribution of the recorded bird assemblages at the plot level along the four vegetation succession stages. We emphasized the need to develop new and integrative land use management concepts for areas affected by land abandonment in order to formulate sound conservation policy.

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The effects of stand structure, tree species composition, proportion of habitat types and land use history on breeding bird assemblages in temperate mixed forests in Western Hungary were studied. The species richness, the abundance and the composition of the whole breeding bird assemblage and of some groups formed on the basis of nesting site and rarity were examined. Stand structural variables had the highest impact on the breeding bird assemblage, while tree species composition, the varying proportion of vegetation types and land use history had no significant effect. In the case of the species richness, the abundance and the composition of the whole assemblage, the most important variables were the mean diameter of trees, the vegetation cover of the forest floor and the dead wood volume. The explained variance in the linear models of different groups varied between 20% and 60%, and the relative importance of these three variables also differed considerably. These results indicate that forest management may considerably influence the diversity and the composition of birds, as all the structural elements affecting birds deeply depend on it. Within the shelterwood management system, the elongation of the rotation and regeneration periods, and the relatively high proportion of retention tree groups after harvest could contribute to the conservation of forest birds. Our results also showed that for the forest bird communities, both the prevalence of big trees and the presence of a dense understory layer are important. Management regimes which apply continuous forest cover might be more appropriate for providing these structural elements simultaneously on small spatial scales, and for the maintenance of a more diverse bird community, thus healthier forest ecosystems.

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The behavioral basis for habitat selection has been intensively studied, but comparatively little attention has been paid to how the resultant species assemblages are formed or affected. Further, how habitat quality interacts with behavior during habitat selection needs greater exploration. We sought to identify some of the behavioral interactions influencing the development of bird assemblages in agricultural habitats, which we consider a structurally simple model system. We performed point counts in non-cultivated meadows, intensive agriculture, and non-intensive agriculture areas in the 2011 and 2012 breeding seasons in which we particularly focussed on Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna), Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla), Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), and Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetus gramineus). Using presence-absence matrices and EcoSim software on 2011 census data, we determined where competition was likely to occur, and which species were competing. In 2012, we experimentally tested these relationships by introducing artificial competitors onto sites. We implemented a before-after control-impact study by comparing presence-absence data from 2011 to 2012 and using multinomial logistic regression. We found grassland bird assemblages are structured by interspecific competition or attraction. The experimental introduction of Grasshopper Sparrows resulted in several presence/absence changes, which differed based on habitat quality, by conspecifics and four heterospecifics (especially Bobolinks). We speculate that the response to competitors is actually determined by the relative quality of each habitat type for each species.

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Community Ecology
Authors: G. M. Pastur, M. V. Lencinas, E. Gallo, M. de Cruz, M. L. Borla, R. S. Esteban, and C. B. Anderson

Biodiversity conservation requires knowledge about the factors that influence the structure and function of biotic assemblages. In southern Patagonian Nothofagus forests, birds are the most abundant and diverse vertebrates and are known to have different requirements for nesting, breeding and feeding. Therefore, we chose this group to analyze key drivers of avian community dynamics; for conservation purposes, this information is requisite to manage Nothofagus forest landscapes and their associated biota. We first characterized forest structure and understory floristic composition in open and closed canopy broadleaved forests of mixed deciduous (MD) and mixed deciduous-evergreen (MDE) species on the southern coast of Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina. For each habitat, bird assemblages were assessed using point counts, checklists and mistnetting. We used ANOVAs and multivariate methods to analyze changes in bird species richness, density, and biomass as a function of habitat and seasonal characteristics. Forest structure and understory plant communities influenced avian assemblage and density; MDE forests had significantly greater species richness, but lower density than MD. Plus, particular species were associated with specific understory conditions, such as Anairetes parulus and Zonotrichia capensis whose presence was related to shrubs. Additionally, variations observed between seasons apparently were related to differential uses of each habitat type during certain times of year. Finally, it was not possible to define a single forest type with greater conservation value for birds; each had a specific bird species assemblage. Consequently, our results suggest the importance of a full representation of habitats to preserve the region’s bird diversity, which also has been described for forest invertebrates and understory plants.

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Studies of functional diversity can help to understand processes that determine the presence of species in different habitats. Measurement of functional diversity in silviculture areas is important because different functional traits can show different responses to this landscape alteration, and therefore ecological functions can be affected. This study evaluated functional and taxonomic differences in bird assemblages in a native forest and eucalyptus plantations, and also assessed the functional nestedness of the bird species. We censused birds in eucalyptus plantations of four different ages, and also in a native forest. The results showed higher functional and taxonomic diversity of birds in the native forest than in plantations and higher similarity of functional traits between plantations of different ages. The high functional diversity in the native forest indicates a greater variety of functional traits, resulting in greater functional complementarity than in plantations. The association of some traits with the native forest, such as nectarivory and foraging in air, indicates the importance of native habitats in maintaining species and functions related to such traits. Already, species traits in eucalyptus plantations represent a subset of those that were recorded in the native forest, indicating that some functions are maintained in plantations. Our results demonstrate that the species occurrence in the plantations and native forest is determined by species traits. Thus, the maintenance of some functions in plantations is provided, although there is a higher functional diversity in native forest.

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We studied spatial changes in species composition (i.e., beta diversity) of local assemblages of birds along ∼450 km of the Middle Paraná River, an extensive fluvial system of South America. Point counts were used to survey birds at 60 plots located in shrub swamps and marshes of the floodplain within four sites (15 plots per site). Two sites were surrounded by each of the two upland ecoregions. Beta diversity of bird assemblages was high and was more important than alpha diversity in shaping regional diversity (i.e., gamma diversity) of the fluvial system. Compositional changes were related to species turnover among plots, while nestedness dissimilarity was not important for shaping diversity patterns. Variation-partitioning analysis showed that local conditions (i.e., landscape composition within a radius of 200 m from the center of each plot) accounted for more spatial variation in assemblage composition than did location along the fluvial system. Adjacent upland ecoregions did not account for spatial changes in bird composition within the fluvial system. In conclusion, environmental heterogeneity created by flood pulses is an important factor for sustaining regional diversity of birds within the fluvial system through effects on beta diversity.

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component of habitat fragmentation: corroborating its role in breeding bird communities and guilds of oak wood fragments in Central Italy. Rev. Ecol. (Terre et Vie) 61: 53–68. Battisti C

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