Edge effects in tropical versus temperate forest bird communities: Three alternative hypotheses for the explanation of differences

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Abstract

The forest edge is the outermost belt of a relatively homogeneous wooded area. The presence and abundance of animals usually differ between edge and interior habitats. Both temperate and tropical zone forest bird communities have been shown to be affected by edges. However, the response of bird communities differs in the two zones: diversity and density usually increase in temperate forest edges, but decline in tropical edges. I propose three alternative hypotheses to explain the observed differences. Hypothesis 1 considers the spatial pattern of the vegetation in Europe and Amazonia, and proposes that pattern in Europe is naturally more patchy, and hence contains more edges. Hypothesis 2 states that changes in vegetation pattern during glaciation were more pronounced in Europe than in Amazonia, resulting in more heterogeneous and patchy vegetation. I discuss this hypothesis in the light of recent views that argue that Amazonia was much more dynamic than previously believed. Hypothesis 3 suggests that human disturbances during historical times may also account for edge creation. The three processes underlying the hypotheses together created a more fragmented landscape in Europe, and temperate zone forest bird communities are adapted to this habitat, whereas those in the tropics do not tolerate fragmentation and edge creation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalActa Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Volume42
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1996

Keywords

  • Bird communities
  • Human activity
  • Spatial and temporal variations
  • Tropical versus temperate forest edges

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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