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Migratory bird species in young tropical forest restoration sites: effects of vegetation height, planting design, and season

  • CATHERINE A. LINDELL (a1), REBECCA J. COLE (a2), KAREN D. HOLL (a3) and RAKAN A. ZAHAWI (a4)

Summary

Tropical land cover change has negatively affected numerous migratory bird populations. Forest restoration can augment migrant wintering habitat. However, almost no information exists about factors that influence migrant use of tropical restoration sites. We sampled migrant birds in young restoration sites in Costa Rica from February 2006 to April 2008 to determine how vegetation height, planting design, season, and landscape forest cover influenced capture rates of four declining species. We also documented total numbers of migratory species and individuals captured in each planting design treatment; each site had a control treatment where seedlings were not planted, an island treatment where seedlings were planted in patches, and a plantation treatment where seedlings were planted to cover the entire area. Sites varied in landscape forest cover within 500 m buffers. Three out of four focal species were captured significantly more often in plantation treatments than island or control treatments. Two of the four species showed seasonal patterns and one species was captured more often in high-vegetation sites. Greater numbers of species and individuals were captured in plantation treatments compared to island and control treatments. The plantation planting design increased migrant use more quickly than the island planting design. When resources are available, we recommend planting plantation-style to rapidly increase the value of restoration sites to a range of species, particularly those that use woody vegetation. When resources are more limited, planting islands may be a cost-effective, although not as ecologically effective, alternative that supports a diversity of migrant species compared to unplanted controls.

En los trópicos, los cambios en la cobertura de la vegetación han afectado negativamente a las poblaciones de aves migratorias. La restauración forestal puede incrementar el hábitat utilizable durante la época invernal. No obstante, casi no hay información respecto a los factores que determinan la selección de sitios por las especies migratorias. Durante febrero del 2006 a abril del 2008, muestreamos especies migratorias en sitios jovenes de restauración forestal en Costa Rica. El objetivo fue determinar cómo la altura de la vegetación, el tipo de plantación, la estación del año, y la cobertura de bosque en el paisaje influían las tasas de captura de cuatro especies en estado de declinación. Contabilizamos asimismo el número de individuos capturados de otras especies migratorias presentes. En cada sitio de observación plantas de semillero se plantaron para configurar tres tipos de cobertura de árboles: a) un tratamiento sin árboles (control), b) un tratamiento de cobertura fragmentada (islas de árboles), y c) un tratamiento de cobertura total. La cobertura forestal alrededor de los sitios (en un radio de 500 m) fue variable. De las cuatro especies migratorias de interés, tres fueron capturadas (significativamente) con más frecuencia en el tratamiento de cobertura total. Dos especies mostraron patrones estacionales, y una especie se capturó más frecuentemente en sitios de vegetación alta. El número de especies e individuos capturados de otras aves migratorias también fue mayor en el tratamiento de cobertura total. En general el tratamiento de cobertura total incremento el número de especies migratorias con respecto al tratamiento de cobertura fragmentada. Proveer refugios a las aves migratorias a través de manchones o islas de arboles quizás sea una alternativa rentable. Sin embargo, y en la medida que los recursos lo permitan, es más efectivo desde un punto de vista ecológico el reducir la fragmentación del paisaje proveyendo con vastas áreas de cobertura forestal las cuales pueden sustentan una mayor diversidad de especies migratorias.

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Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence; e-mail: lindellc@msu.edu

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