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The relationship between population density, habitat position and habitat breadth within a neotropical forest bird community

Marsden, Stuart and Whiffen, Mark (2003) The relationship between population density, habitat position and habitat breadth within a neotropical forest bird community. Ecography, 26 (4). pp. 385-392. ISSN 1600-0587

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Abstract

We examined the relationship between local abundance, habitat position and habitat breadth across bird species in a large Atlantic forest reserve in Brazil. This appears to be the first such study for any rainforest taxon. Habitat position for a species was its mean foraging height, along with the mean scores on three principal habitat axes for census stations at which it was recorded. Habitat breadth was the standard deviation of recorded foraging heights and the standard deviations of "positive" station scores on the habitat axes. We also examined differences in habitat position and breadth between endemic and wide-ranging taxa and amongst dietary groups. Amongst 31 species for which density estimation was possible, there were no correlations between local abundance and breadth of habitat use on any of the habitat axes. Breadth of habitat used did not vary with degree of endemism, but herbivores used a greater breadth of habitats on the axis describing canopy closure than did omnivores. Habitat position did not vary with endemic status, but herbivores preferred higher-biomass habitats than faunivores, and higher foraging heights than either faunivores or omnivores. Local abundance was linked weakly to habitat position with commoner species tending to forage in the lower strata of open-canopied areas. The 31 most commonly recorded species tended to occupy "middle-range" habitat positions, while 28 rarer species occupied habitats toward one or other end of the vegetation axes. These results suggest an association between the local abundance of a species and its habitat position, and especially its preference for common or mid-range habitats, rather than with its ability to utilise a wide range of habitats.

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