Trophic flexibility and the persistence of understory birds in intensively logged rainforest

Suzan, Benedick and Woodcock, Paul and Newton, Rob J. and Edwards, Felicity A. and Andrews, David J. R. and Docherty, Teegan D. S. and Edwards, David P. and Mitchell, Simon L. and Ota, Takahiro and Bottrell, Simon H. and Hamer, Keith C. (2013) Trophic flexibility and the persistence of understory birds in intensively logged rainforest. Conservation Biology, 27 (5). pp. 1079-1086.


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Effects of logging on species composition in tropical rainforests are well known but may fail to reveal key changes in species interactions. We used nitrogen stable-isotope analysis of 73 species of understory birds to quantify trophic responses to repeated intensive logging of rainforest in northern Borneo and to test 4 hypotheses: logging has significant effects on trophic positions and trophic-niche widths of species, and the persistence of species in degraded forest is related to their trophic positions and trophic-niche widths in primary forest. Species fed from higher up the food chain and had narrower trophic-niche widths in degraded forest. Species with narrow trophic-niche widths in primary forest were less likely to persist after logging, a result that indicates a higher vulnerability of dietary specialists to local extinction following habitat disturbance. Persistence of species in degraded forest was not related to a species’ trophic position. These results indicate changes in trophic organization that were not apparent from changes in species composition and highlight the importance of focusing on trophic flexibility over the prevailing emphasis on membership of static feeding guilds. Our results thus support the notion that alterations to trophic organization and interactions within tropical forests may be a pervasive and functionally important hidden effect of forest degradation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: community resilience, diet, ecosystem functioning, extinction risk, food webs, functional guilds, selective logging
Subjects: S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Divisions: SCHOOL > School of Sustainable Agriculture
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2016 05:58
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 03:46

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