Nico Dauphiné
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Understory bird community responses to non-mechanized selective logging in Neotropical forests

Project Summary

Understanding how birds respond to logging is a critical part of developing forest management plans that support the long-term protection of wildlife. Few studies have evaluated the effects of logging on birds in the tropics (Mason & Thiollay 2001). Previous research has shown that mechanized selective logging, which can cause substantial incidental damage to forest through the use of heavy equipment, has major impacts on primary forest bird communities and that many understory bird species decline dramatically or disappear altogether following selective logging (e.g., Wong 1985, Lambert 1992, Mason & Thiollay 2001).

birdI examined the effects of non-mechanized selective logging on understory bird communities in humid tropical forests in the departments of Amazonas and Loreto, northern Peru. Between February and November 2005, I sampled birds using constant-effort mist netting at 21 forest sites with different logging histories between 100 and 800 m in elevation. Birds in forests logged 1, 5, and 9 years previously were compared with those in unlogged forests using a sample effort of 4439 net-hours. I made 1106 captures of 130 species belonging to 21 families. The Thamnophilidae (typical antbirds) and Trochilidae (hummingbirds) were the best-represented families, with 30 and 20 species, respectively. Rare species, which were defined as those comprising less than 2% of total captures, made up the majority (86%) of captures, and included 3 Neotropical-Nearctic migrant species (Canada Warbler, Swainson’s Thrush, and Gray-cheeked Thrush).

I assumed that not all species were detected and used a jackknife method to estimate species richness for each site based on empirical species abundance distributions from my capture data. In Amazonas, understory bird species richness increased between 1-5 years after selective logging, while species richness in both post-logging treatments was similar to that in unlogged forest. In Loreto, species richness in 1-yr-old logged forest and 9-yr-old logged forest was lower than in unlogged forest, while species richness in 5-yr-old logged forest was similar to unlogged forest. These results suggest that using a non-mechanized approach to selective logging may yield a similar timber volume to typical commercial harvest regimes without substantial negative impacts to understory bird communities.

Peru is one of the most biologically diverse countries on earth and is host to nearly 20% of the world’s bird species (Clements & Shany 2001). Much of the regional fauna and flora in the northern Peruvian Amazon remains undocumented and poorly-known (Rodriguez & Young 2000). Research for this study contributes not only to understanding birds’ responses to selective logging, but also to baseline ecological knowledge of the region and to improved collaboration between scientists and local communities for bird conservation.




B.A., Yale University
M.S., Cornell University
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Georgia

Additional Information

Fieldwork was funded by grants from the Georgia Ornithological Society, the Critically Endangered Neotropical Species Fund at Conservation International, the University of Georgia IDEAS program, and the Tinker Foundation. Additional support has been provided by research assistantships and travel awards from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and a Dissertation Completion Award from the Graduate School at the University of Georgia.


Contact Information



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   Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
   University of Georgia
   Athens GA 30602 USA

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