Nested species assemblages as a tool to detect sensitivity to forest fragmentation: the case of cloud forest birds


  • Miguel Angel Martínez-Morales

M. A. Martínez-Morales, Dept of Zoology, Univ. of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ UK. Present address: Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Apartado Postal 69, Plaza Juárez, Pachuca, Hidalgo, México C.P. 42001 (


In an ecological community, groups of species may or may not have a nested structure. Furthermore, any nested structure detected could have several causes, each of which would have to be identified, since they may have important theoretical and management implications. In this paper, I assessed the nested structure of bird communities using cloud forest fragments in eastern Mexico to identify bird species and groups of species sensitive to cloud forest fragmentation. Sensitive species were expected to have a nested arrangement highly correlated with forest fragmentation intensity. Analysis identified the following groups of birds as showing a nested structure highly correlated with cloud forest fragmentation: birds with a body mass between 100 and 300 g and larger than 600 g, some trophic behavioural guilds (terrestrial granivore, terrestrial granivore–frugivore, understory granivore–frugivore, arboreal granivore–frugivore, gleaning terrestrial insectivore, gleaning understory insectivore, cliff gleaning insectivore, nocturnal aerial insectivore, diurnal raptor, nocturnal raptor, terrestrial omnivore, scavenger), forest interior and generalist birds, species restricted to cloud forest, and threatened species. This study shows that the analysis of the nested species assemblage can be considered a useful tool to identify species sensitivity to ecological or landscape patterns and processes, in this case, species or groups of species affected by a fragmented landscape pattern.