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Effects of habitat degradation on the abundance, richness and diversity of raptors across Neotropical biomes

AuthorsCarrete, Martina ; Tella, José Luis ; Blanco, Guillermo ; Bertellotti, Marcelo
KeywordsHabitat transformation and fragmentation
Habitat and species conservation
Surrogate species
Losers and winners
Issue Date10-Jun-2009
CitationBiological Conservation 142(10): 2002-2011 (2009)
AbstractPopulation growth and human development result in biodiversity loss and biological homogenization not only in developed countries, but increasingly in the less developed countries as well. In those countries, where urbanization and agricultural intensification occur at a faster rate than in developed countries, habitat degradation appears to be the leading cause of wildlife loss. During the breeding seasons of 2002–2005 we conducted road surveys across five biomes of Argentina to detect variations in raptor community attributes as potential indicators of broad scale habitat degradation. Abundance of individuals, richness and diversity of species were calculated to assess the effects of habitat transformation and patch size on these community attributes. Raptor communities strongly varied in relation to habitat transformations, with lower abundance of individuals, richness and diversity of species in more transformed landscapes. Small patches of natural vegetation and locations in which natural and cultivated lands where interspersed showed lower richness and diversity of raptors than large patches. Fragmentation was the main cause of reductions in abundance of individuals. Although the relative contribution of our two estimates of habitat degradation to abundance, richness and diversity of raptors varied among biomes, these community attributes proved useful as predictors of habitat degradation. This was especially true in habitats where raptor communities are more complex although overall patterns remained constant across biomes, from forests to deserts. Taking into account current trends of habitat transformation (drastic increments in monocultures, urban areas, and habitat patchiness), the conservation of raptor communities in these biomes could be seriously compromised. In terms of species-specific responses of raptors to habitat degradation, a rapid process of homogenization can be expected, resulting in only a few winner species within a general scenario of losers.
Description10 pages, 5 figures, 3 tables.-- Printed version published Oct 2009.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2009.02.012
Appears in Collections:(MNCN) Artículos
(EBD) Artículos
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