Image_2_The Effect of Forest Management on the Avifauna of a Brazilian Dry Forest.TIFF (500.93 kB)
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posted on 16.07.2021, 04:27 authored by Jonathan Ramos Ribeiro, Flor Maria Guedes Las-Casas, Hevana Santana de Lima, Weber Andrade de Girão e Silva, Luciano Nicolás Naka

The conversion of tropical habitats has dramatic implications on biodiversity and represents one of the greatest conservation challenges of our time. Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests (SDTF), which are disjointly distributed throughout the Neotropics, are especially susceptible to human activities. The Caatinga Dry Forest, located in the semi-arid interior of northeastern Brazil, represents not only the largest and most biologically diverse nucleus of SDTF, but also the world’s most densely populated semi-arid region, with ever-growing pressure on its natural resources. To prevent illegal logging, conservation agencies looked at forest management, where an area is divided in smaller stands which are gradually logged and allowed to regrow for a period of time, when a new cutting cycle should reinitiate. The impacts of these management schemes on biodiversity, however, remain largely untested. We conducted standardized avian surveys to evaluate the effects of forest management on the avian community at a 1,670 ha privately owned property located on the Chapada do Araripe, northeastern Brazil. This area was divided in 22 forest stands, half of which had already been logged at the time of our sampling, creating a gradient of logged and natural forests and an 11-yr chrono-sequence of forest regeneration. Our results show that logged areas present fewer individuals, fewer species, and different avian assemblages than unlogged forests. Such differences are mostly driven by forest-dependent species, which were overwhelmingly affected by forest management. Our results show that although logged forests tend to recover its height after a decade, they do not recover the originally forest cover, measured by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. Likewise, decade-long recovering stands continue to show lower species richness, lower bird abundance, and different avian composition than unlogged forests. We identified a set of bird species that are more affected by forest management (ecological losers) and a group of birds that apparently benefit from the referred changes in land use (ecological winners). We conclude that completely managing an entire area may cause the extirpation of several forest-dependent species. We therefore suggest keeping logged and unlogged plots intermingled, to avoid local extinctions and the complete modification of the original avifauna.

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