Bird species that occupy river edge in continuous forest tend to be less sensitive to forest fragmentation
Along a distance gradient from a given river, two types of habitat can be recognized: natural river edge and forest interior, each one with its own vegetation characteristics and dynamics. In a continuous area of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, we investigated (1) if bird communities are different between a riverbank of a small stream and an inland forest habitat; (2) if the species of the river edge habitat are the ones that persist in the most in forest fragments after deforestation of a continuous forest; (3) if the river edge habitat species are those that are less sensitive to forest fragmentation. It is expected that there are differences in the bird communities and the occupancy of some species between the two habitats. We allocated 16 sampling points in each of the habitats and sampled the birds by point counts with a short radius of 30 m. Results suggest that there is a significant difference between the composition of the bird communities of the river edge and forest interior habitats, although the species richness is similar. Six species were more likely to occupy the river edge and 14 species had a greater probability of occupancy in the forest interior. Species associated with the river edge habitat (15 species) tend not to be sensitive to forest fragmentation (12 species). In this study, we demonstrated that river-border species of continuous forest areas form a significant part of the bird communities that persist in small forest fragments, with intense edge effect. This shows that not all forest edge species are the result of the colonization from open areas. Congruently, species that occupy the most distant areas from the river vegetation in a continuous forest are those more sensitive to forest fragmentation.
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