Birds in the matrix: the role of agriculture in avian conservation in the Taita Hills, Kenya

Norfolk, Olivia, Jung, Martin, Platts, Philip J, Malaki, Phillista, Odeny, Dickens and Marchant, Rob (2017) Birds in the matrix: the role of agriculture in avian conservation in the Taita Hills, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology. ISSN 0141-6707

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Abstract

Agricultural conversion of tropical forests is a major driver of biodiversity loss. Slowing rates of deforestation is a conservation priority, but it is also useful to consider how species diversity is retained across the agricultural matrix. Here we assess how bird diversity varies in relation to land use in the Taita Hills, Kenya. We used point counts to survey birds along a land-use gradient that included primary forest, secondary vegetation, agroforest, timber plantation and cropland. We found that the agricultural matrix supports an abundant and diverse bird community with high levels of species turnover, but that forest specialists are confined predominantly to primary forest, with the matrix dominated by forest visitors. Ordination analyses showed that representation of forest specialists decreases with distance from primary forest. With the exception of forest generalists, bird abundance and diversity are lowest in timber plantations. Contrary to expectation, we found feeding guilds at similar abundances in all land-use types. We conclude that while the agricultural matrix, and agroforest in particular, makes a strong contribution to observed bird diversity at the landscape scale, intact primary forest is essential for maintaining this diversity, especially among species of conservation concern.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: agroforestry; Eastern Arc Mountains; forest; functional diversity; land-use change; tropical
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0301 Biology > QH0540 Ecology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0301 Biology
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Depositing User: Martin Jung
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2016 11:26
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2017 10:06
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/59541

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