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Influence of anthropogenic disturbance on bird communities in a tropical dry forest: role of vegetation structure


Ghazala Shahabuddin. Current address: c/o Embassy of India, P.O. Box 292, 336 Kapurdhara Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel: 977-1-4422455


A study was carried out in Sariska Tiger Reserve in India to investigate the effects of anthropogenic disturbance caused by biomass extraction on the bird communities of tropical dry forests. The study was based on comparisons of the avifaunal community as well as vegetation structure between strictly protected (‘undisturbed’) and intensively used (‘disturbed’) sites that were demarcated a priori on the basis of disturbance indicators. There was no significant difference in the number of recorded species and bird abundance between disturbed and undisturbed sites. However, bird species diversity was significantly lower in disturbed sites. Bird species composition was found to differ significantly between disturbed and undisturbed sites and was associated with the measured disturbance indicators. Changes in bird species composition occurred because of seven of 26 locally abundant bird species (26.9%) responding significantly to the disturbance regime. All the affected bird species are primarily insectivorous. Bird species composition was significantly related to six vegetation structural variables, including two that were significantly altered by disturbance. Changes in vegetation structure accounted for all the changes in bird species composition caused by disturbance. However, vegetation structure had additional effects on bird species composition besides those caused simply by disturbance. Thus, our study indicates that forest use in the form of chronic biomass extraction can have significant effects upon bird diversity and species composition of tropical dry forest. There is a need to retain a proportion of natural ecosystems as inviolate if the full complement of biodiversity is to be conserved.