Foraging behavioural traits of tropical insectivorous birds lead to dissimilar communities in contrasting forest habitats

15 January 2019

Castaño-Villa, Gabriel; Santisteban-Arenas, Rafael; Hoyos-Jaramillo, Alejandro; Estevez-Varon, Jaime; Fonturbel, Francisco

Many deforested areas worldwide have been planted with Alnus spp. to protect watersheds and soils. However, the effects of these plantations on biodiversity are little known yet. Contrasting forest types may impose strong environmental filters to some functional traits, leading to dissimilar communities. Insectivorous birds are known to be sensitive to changes in habitat structure due to their specialized foraging behaviour. We contrasted species richness, abundance and composition of insectivorous birds, according to functional behaviour groups (foraging strategy and stratum), between secondary forest stands and Andean alder (Alnus acuminata) plantations, to assess how contrasting forest types affect this bird group in the Colombian Andes. Insectivorous bird species richness and abundance were higher at the Alder plantation rather than at the secondary forest, resulting in dissimilar communities. In this regard, forest plantations act as a positive filter for foliage gleaners and flycatchers, whereas secondary forests act as a positive filter for bark foragers. Secondary forests and alder plantations impose different ecological scenarios to insectivorous birds, related to foraging strategies and foraging stratum, which ultimately leads to a dissimilar species composition.