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Conservation of tropical forest birds in countryside habitats


  • Editor, R.A. Alford

Jennifer B. Hughes Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Center for Environmental Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, U.S.A. Tel.: +1 (401) 863-9676. Fax: +1 (401) 863-2166.


The pressing need to increase agricultural production often seems at odds with conserving biodiversity. We find that if managed properly, the tropical countryside may provide a substantial opportunity for tropical bird conservation. We detected 144 bird species from 29 families in agricultural areas outside of extensive native forest in southern Costa Rica. The majority of the species detected were observed foraging, often kilometres from extensive native forest. We estimate that 46% of those native to this region (excluding nocturnal species and waterfowl) are utilizing the countryside in some manner. Forecasts of biodiversity change under various land-use scenarios indicate that policies that affect habitat composition could greatly impact the persistence of these species in the countryside. In particular, if tall trees and edge habitats were removed from this landscape, we predict that bird richness in the countryside would decline by approximately 40%.

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