Forest structure predicts species richness and functional diversity in Amazonian mixed-species bird flocks

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2023-03-01

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Secondary forest has the potential to act as an important habitat for biodiversity and restoring ecological benefits. Functional diversity, which includes morphological and behavioral traits that mediate species interactions with the surrounding environment, relates to the resilience of ecosystems. To assess the relationship between habitat structural differences in primary and secondary forest and the resultant differences in functional diversity of avian species, we followed 11 mixed-species flocks at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, near Manaus, Brazil. We used remote sensing LiDAR to assess which three-dimensional forest structural features are most closely associated with variation in species richness and functional diversity in secondary and primary tropical forest flocks. The species richness of flocks in primary forest increased in areas with higher elevation and higher leaf area density in the understory and subcanopy but was not correlated with habitat structure in secondary forest. Functional diversity increased at lower elevations and with a denser subcanopy in both primary forest and secondary forest but only increased with greater understory leaf area density in primary forest. Together, these results indicate that a dense subcanopy and understory can be important for mixed-species flocks and that flock richness and functional diversity can be predicted by vegetation structure. Abstract in Portuguese is available with online material.

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Biotropica, v. 55, n. 2, p. 467-479, 2023.

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