Cover image for Vol. 48 Issue 5

Edited By: Emilio Bruna

Impact Factor: 1.944

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 71/149 (Ecology)

Online ISSN: 1744-7429

Virtual Issues

Virtual Issues from Biotropica

Editor’s Choice

Published July 2015 in conjunction with the annual ATBC meeting

As Editor-in-Chief of Biotropica, I am honored that authors choose to publish with us some of the most interesting, exciting, and important advances in tropical biology. All of these articles are important disciplinary advances, but in every issue there is at least one article that I find especially intriguing. Perhaps the team used a clever approach or experiment to test their hypotheses, or circumstances have made the results particularly relevant at the time of publication. The study could have broad theoretical or conservation implications, or maybe the natural history of the system is especially fascinating. But all of these articles have one thing in common – no matter what you do your research on, I think this is the one article from the issue that all of us absolutely must take a few moments to read, share with colleagues, and reflect upon. If nothing else, spending a few minutes looking it over is an opportunity to learn something interesting about a different tropical field site and a welcome respite from unread e-mail!

A year ago we began to highlight these articles by selecting one from each issue as the “Editor’s Choice”. Each of the authors writes an essay to accompany the article, which we publish at, in which they provide some “behind-the-scenes” insights on the study, such as what motivated them to carry it out, directions for future research they think are particularly promising, and any unforeseen circumstances with which they had to deal (there are always unforeseen circumstances!) With the support of our publisher, Wiley, we are excited to be able to collect these articles in a Virtual Issue, where they will remain freely accessible to read and download until August 31, 2015. I hope you enjoy them and the accompanying essays, and to one day select your article as the Editor’s Choice!

Emilio M. Bruna EIC, Biotropica

Competition and Facilitation in the Capuchin–Squirrel Monkey Relationship (Taal Levi et al)
Read it because . . . Brown capuchin monkeys are the bullies of tropical forests. They are more omnivorous than other Neotropical primates, eating insects, birds, eggs, coati nestlings, bats, rodents, and even small primates in addition to fruit. Nevertheless, they allow large groups of tiny squirrel monkeys to feed and travel with them.

Influence of Terrestrial Molluscs on Litter Decomposition and Nutrient Release in a Hawaiian Rain Forest (Wallace M. Meyer III et al)
Read it because . . . Terrestrial molluscs (snails and slugs) of the islands of the Pacific are recognized for their spectacular diversity and high levels of endemism but also because they are under extreme threat, with many species already extinct.

Cascading Effects of Climate Change: Do Hurricane-damaged Forests Increase Risk of Exposure to Parasites? (Alison M. Behie et al)
Read it because . . . One of the most important consequences of climate change is the potential for altered frequency and intensity of storms such as hurricanes.

Phyllosphere Bacteria Improve Animal Contribution to Plant Nutrition (Ana Z. Gonçalves et al)
Read it because . . . This study elegantly and experimentally demonstrates one pathway by which they do so – by enhancing the uptake of nitrogen from animals whose fecal material is used by plants as fertilizer.

Linking Land-Use Scenarios, Remote Sensing and Monitoring to Project Impact of Management Decisions (Nina Farwig et al)
Read it because . . . It is well documented that tropical forests are declining across the globe. This is worrying as they provide not only more than 50% of the terrestrial biodiversity but also essential ecosystem goods and services for human well-being.

Edaphic, Nutritive, and Species Assemblage Differences between Hotspots and Matrix Vegetation: Two African Case Studies (Stephen G. Arnold et al)
Read it because . . . To the best of our knowledge, until now it had still not been documented whether the comparatively high forage nutritive quality is driven by phenotypic changes in more or less the same species pool or whether the variation is driven by species turnover.

Genetic Divergence During Long-term Isolation in Highly Diverse Populations of Tropical Trees Across the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania (Alistair S. Jump et al)
Read it because . . . It is an excellent example of a contemporary take on a long-standing evolutionary question, conducted in an understudied system, and with important implications for conservation.

Landscape-scale Variation in Pathogen-suppressive Bacteria in Tropical Dry Forest Soils of Costa Rica (Kristen K. Becklund et al)
Read it because . . . It is a fascinating look at spatial variation in the antibiotic-producing bacteria in tropical soils, and the potential role they may play in mediating plant diversity

Amphibian Hotspots and Conservation Priorities in Eastern Cuba Identified by Species Distribution Modeling (Ansel Fong G. et al)
Read it because . . . The authors address a critical issue in conservation in a remarkable biological hotspot. It is a creative use of museum records, extensive field work, and modeling with clear implications for conservation and the extension of protected areas, and has important implications for other Caribbean mountain ranges.

Effects of Climate History and Environmental Grain on Species’ Distributions in Africa and South America (Yoshinori Nakazawa and Andrew Townsend Peterson)
Read it because . . . How climate change during the Pleistocene influenced the distribution of biomes and biota has long been contentious. This study is unique in that it used advanced modeling techniques to explore how different levels of environmental restriction in analogues for niche breadth would influence species’ distributions, and in explicitly comparing the responses of African and South American environments.

The Dominance of Introduced Plant Species in the Diets of Migratory Galapagos Tortoises Increases with Elevation on a Human-Occupied Island (Stephen Blake et al)
Read it because . . .The effects of introduced species are overwhelmingly negative. But are there cases where they might be beneficial? Blake et al. document the characterize diet composition of two species of Galapagos tortoises and investigate how introduced plant species on which they forage influence their conservation.


Published June 2014

Brazil always fascinated early naturalists and continues to be an inspiration to contemporary biologists, resulting in a sophisticated literature advancing our understanding of the ecological and evolutionary factors structuring tropical ecosystems, documenting threats to their persistence, and describing innovative strategies for their conservation. With the eyes of the world on Brazil it prepares to host the world’s most widely viewed sporting event – the 2014 FIFA World Cup – we present this collection of articles published in Biotropica that highlights Brazil’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity, the myriad research approaches used to understand and conserve them, and the diversity of scholars engaged in this critical research.

Football and biodiversity conservation: FIFA and Brazil can still hit a green goal (Felipe P. Melo et al)
Read it because . . . The three-banded armadillo and mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is endangered. The authors urge FIFA and the Brazilian government to up their efforts for the species, and incorporate conservation actions into the promised legacy of the Cup.

Deforestation trends of tropical dry forests in Central Brazil (Carlos A. Bianchi and Susan M. Haig)
Read it because . . . Using satellite imagery and fragmentation analysis the authors show that tropical dry forests of the Brazilian Cerrado have decreased more than 66% over the past 31 years and are likely to disappear within less than two decades if no effective protection is adopted.

Jaguar and puma activity patterns and predator-prey interactions in four Brazilian biomes (Vania C. Foster et al)
Read it because . . . The authors present a thorough analysis of the temporal behavior of jaguars and pumas in four Brazilian biomes and investigate how the sympatry of these two top carnivores, as well as the activity of their main prey, shapes their circadian activity patterns.

Assessing extinction risk in small metapopulations of Golden-headed Lion Tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) in Bahia State, Brazil (Sara L. Zeigler, Kristel M. De Vleeschouwer and Becky E. Raboy)
Read it because . . . The golden-headed lion tamarin is a flagship symbol of Brazil’s wealth of biodiversity. The authors provide a guide to help prioritize conservation actions for this declining species.

Amazon forest structure from IKONOS satellite data and the automated characterization of forest canopy properties (Michael Palace et al)
Read it because . . . The authors show that lasers can be used to accurately measure the three-dimensional structure of Amazon rain forests.

Frugivory, post-feeding flights of frugivorous birds and the movement of seeds in a Brazilian fragmented landscape (Marco A. Pizo and Bruno T. P. dos Santos)
Read it because . . . A few frugivorous bird species can move widely in the landscapes dominated by agriculture typical of southern Brazil. The authors show how these birds are connecting isolated patches of Atlantic Forest through seed dispersal.

Fruit removal and natural seed dispersal of the Brazil Nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa) in Central Amazonia, Brazil (Joanne M. Tuck Haugaasen et al)
Read it because . . . The authors provide a new method to realistically quantify seed dispersal of Brazil-nut trees, and suggest that previous experiments often underestimate the distances rodents disperse the seeds of this tree.

Amphibian declines in Brazil: an overview (Paula Cabral Eterovick et al)
Read it because . . . Little is known about amphibian population declines in Brazil. The authors offer a comprehensive review of declines and possible causes. They also pinpoint the problems associated with lack of quality information and recommend directions to improve amphibian conservation in Brazil.

Within flood season variation in fruit consumption and seed dispersal by two characin fishes of the Amazon (Christine M. Lucas)
Read it because . . . The consumption of fruits produced by trees by fish in tropical floodplains and the subsequent dispersal of their seeds is a fascinating example of tropical plant-animal interactions. The author shows that the diversity and species composition of fruits and seeds consumed by characin fishes varies within the flood season in the Lower Amazon.

Pollen dispersal between isolated trees in the Brazilian savannah: a case study of the Neotropical tree Hymenaea stigonocarpa (Mário Luiz Teixeira de Moraes and Alexandre Magno Sebbenn)
Read it because . . . The authors show that isolated trees in Brazilian pastures may not reproductively isolated, although they do exhibit a higher ‘selfing’ rate than trees occurring in groups.

Conservation of an ant–plant mutualism in native forests and ecologically-managed tree monocultures (Mônica F. Kersch-Becker, Sandra R. Buss and Carlos R. Fonseca)
Read it because . . . Brazil’s Atlantic rain forests are being replaced with tree plantations that significantly alter biodiversity. The authors demonstrate how sustainable forest management helps to maintain species interactions—a key to ecosystem functioning.

Edge Structure Determines the Magnitude of Changes in Microclimate and Vegetation Structure in Tropical Forest Fragments (Raphael K. Didham and John H. Lawton)
Read it because . . . Fire-encroachment from agricultural land is an increasing threat to tropical rain forests. This was the first study to show that fire alters vegetation structure at forest edges, compromising the effectiveness of Nature Reserve design in modified landscapes.

Primate Conservation

Published: May 2013

Primates are the most charismatic and among the most threatened of mammals, and are declining due to habitat loss, land use intensification and hunting. Apart from the concern for their conservation, it is also possible that ecological processes mediated by them, principally seed dispersal, could have knock-on effects on plant populations and forest composition. But are primates as vulnerable to forest disturbance as is often supposed? This Virtual Issue indicates that primates are somewhat adaptable and able to persist in degraded or fragmented forests, often by diversifying their food sources. Good news for primate conservation perhaps, but there is much to learn to improve land management for the benefit of primate populations.

Frugivory and Seed Dispersal by Brown Lemurs in a Malagasy Tropical Dry Forest
Hiroki Sato
Read it because... In Malagasy forests, the frugivorous species of Lemuridae are the largest-bodied seed dispersers. The author demonstrates key roles of brown lemurs — such as dispersal of large amount of seeds and large-sized seeds, improvement of seed germination, and a strong mutualism with an endemic large-seeded plant.

The Impact of Forest Disturbance on the Seasonal Foraging Ecology of a Critically Endangered African Primate
Claire E. Bracebridge, Tim R. Davenport and Stuart J. Marsden
Read it because... The dietary adaptability of the kipunji to seasonally fluctuating forest resources may buffer it against the impact of forest disturbance and ecological stress, including climate change. The authors show how understanding the importance of the major food species can help inform conservation strategies for species facing similar environmental threats.

Differences in Diet Between Spider Monkey Groups Living in Forest Fragments and Continuous Forest in Mexico
Oscar M. Chaves, Kathryn E. Stoner, and Víctor Arroyo-Rodríguez
Read it because... The authors found that food availability for spider monkeys was lower in fragments than in continuous forest. As result, monkeys in fragments diversified their diet, increased consumption of leaves, and reduced the time they spent feeding on trees in favor of more time feeding on figs and palms.

Pileated Gibbon Density in Relation to Habitat Characteristics and Post-logging Forest Recovery
Rungnapa Phoonjampa
Read it because... Pileated gibbon densities depend on mature and undisturbed evergreen forest. Gibbons can persist in disturbed areas if the forest is protected, but recovery to previous densities may take decades. The authors suggest that this is due to the slow pace of forest regeneration and/or poor recovery potential of gibbons.

The Abundance of Large Ateline Monkeys is Positively Associated with the Diversity of Plants Regenerating in Neotropical Forests
Pablo R. Stevenson
Read it because... This study demonstrates the importance of large Neotropical primates in seed dispersal processes by showing that a low abundance, or absence, of these primates is associated with lower diversity of plants in the regeneration phase.

The Long-term Impact of Timber Harvesting on the Resource Base of Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda
Kevin B. Potts
Read it because... Commercial logging is often considered incompatible with the survival of forest-dwelling primates. The author demonstrates that although logging operations in the 1960s in Kibale National Park, Uganda removed important dietary species for chimpanzees, critical subsistence resources were largely unaffected. The density of chimpanzees at logged sites in Kibale has remained stable over time.

Low Primate Diversity and Abundance in Northern Amazonia and its Implications for Conservation
Antonio Rossano Mendes Pontes
Read it because... Large areas of the Rio Negro basin in Amazonia are covered by continuous tracts of tropical forest, which seem suitable for primate species, but are virtually empty. The author suggests understanding this has important implications for the design of conservation reserves.

Dynamics in Hurricane Prone Forests

Published: September 2012

This virtual issue compiles studies from around the world on cyclone impacts on forests and their species to provide insights about the vulnerability and potential recovery of these forests. We would do well to understand forest vulnerability to, and recovery from, cyclones. This is particularly because some commentators perceive increasing frequency and severity of tropical storms as a direct result of climate change, although others are more circumspect. Forests also now have to cope not only with natural disturbances, to which they are often well adapted, but also to habitat fragmentation, invasive species and fires, all of which interact with natural disturbances and lead to a very uncertain forest future.

The Impact of Cyclone Fanele on a Tropical Dry Forest in Madagascar
Lewis RJ & Bannar-Martin KH

Impact of Hurricane Dean (2007) on Game Species of the Selva Maya, Mexico
Ramirez-Barajas PJ, Islebe GA, & Calme S

High Mortality for Rare Species Following Hurricane Disturbance in the Southern Yucatan
Vandecar KL, et al

Effects of Hurricanes on Rare Plant Demography in Fire-Controlled Ecosystems
Menges ES, Weekley CW, Clarke GL, & Smith SA

Zonation Patterns of Belizean Offshore Mangrove Forests 41 Years After a Catastrophic Hurricane
Piou C, Feller IC, Berger U, & Chi F

The Influence of Hurricane Winds on Caribbean Dry Forest Structure and Nutrient Pools
Van Bloem SJ, et al

Hurricane Disturbance Alters Secondary Forest Recovery in Puerto Rico
Flynn DFB, et al

Variation in Susceptibility to Hurricane Damage as a Function of Storm Intensity in Puerto Rican Tree Species
Canham CD, Thompson J, Zimmerman JK, & Uriarte M

Population and Genetic Consequences of Hurricanes for Three Species of West Indian Phyllostomid Bats
Fleming TH & Murray KL

Damage and Recovery of Riparian Sierra Palms after Hurricane Georges: Influence of Topography and Biotic Characteristics
Zimmerman JKH & Covich AP

Collected Articles of Navjot Sodhi: In Gratitude

Published: August 2011

Biotropica celebrates the International Year of Biodiversity

Published: May 2010

Momentum drives the crash: Mass extinction in the tropics
Barry W. Brook, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Lian Pin Koh, Navjot S. Sodhi

Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Anthropogenic Forest Disturbance on Southeast Asia's Biotas
Navjot S. Sodhi, Tien Ming Lee, Lian Pin Koh, Barry W. Brook

Phylogenetic Age is Positively Correlated with Sensitivity to Timber Harvest in Bornean Mammals
Erik Meijaard, Douglas Sheil, Andrew J. Marshall, Robert Nasi

Edge-effects Drive Tropical Forest Fragments Towards an Early-Successional System
Marcelo Tabarelli, Ariadna V. Lopes, Carlos A. Peres

Climate Change Enhances the Potential Impact of Infectious Disease and Harvest on Tropical Waterfowl
Lochran W. Traill, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Hume E. Field, Barry W. Brook

Secondary Rain Forests are not Havens for Reptile Species in Tropical Mexico
V0237ctor H. Luja, Salvador Herrando-P0233rez, David Gonz0225lez-Sol0237s, Luca Luiselli

Decline of Mammal Species Diversity Along the Yungas Forest of Argentina
Ricardo A. Ojeda, Rub0233n M. Barquez, Jutta Stadler, Roland Brandl

The Relationship between Local Abundance and Distribution of Rain Forest Trees across Environmental Gradients in India
Priya Davidar, B. Rajagopal, M. Arjunan, Jean Philippe Puyravaud

Invasive Exotic Plants in the Tropical Pacific Islands: Patterns of Diversity
Julie S. Denslow, James C. Space, Philip A. Thomas

Game Vertebrate Densities in Hunted and Nonhunted Forest Sites in Manu National Park, Peru
Whaldener Endo, Carlos A. Peres, Edith Salas, Sandra Mori, Jose-Luis Sanchez-Vega, Glenn H. Shepard, Victor Pacheco, Douglas W. Yu

Biological Monitoring in the Amazon: Recent Progress and Future Needs
Gon0231alo Ferraz, Carlos E. Marinelli, Thomas E. Lovejoy

Conservation of Vascular Epiphyte Diversity in Shade Cacao Plantations in the Choc0243 Region of Ecuador
Xavier Haro-Carri0243n, Tannya Lozada, Hugo Navarrete, G. H. J. de Koning

Can Homegardens Conserve Biodiversity in Bangladesh?
Md. Enamul Kabir, Edward L. Webb

Bird Community Composition in a Shaded Coffee Agro-ecological Matrix in Puebla, Mexico: The Effects of Landscape Heterogeneity at Multiple Spatial Scales
Eur0237dice Leyequi0233n, W.F. de Boer, V0237ctor M. Toledo

Rapid Recovery of Biomass, Species Richness, and Species Composition in a Forest Chronosequence in Northeastern Costa Rica
Susan G. Letcher, Robin L. Chazdon

Beyond Reserves: A Research Agenda for Conserving Biodiversity in Human-modified Tropical Landscapes
Robin L. Chazdon, Celia A. Harvey, Oliver Komar, Daniel M. Griffith, Bruce G. Ferguson, Miguel Mart0237nez-Ramos, Helda Morales, Ronald Nigh, Lorena Soto-Pinto, Michiel van Breugel, Stacy M. Philpott

The Future of Tropical Forest Species
S. Joseph Wright, Helene C. Muller-Landau