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Habitat associations of an insular Wallacean avifauna: a multi-scale approach for biodiversity proxies

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/2012
JournalEcological Indicators
Volume23
Number of pages10
Pages491-500
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The endemic avifauna of Wallacea is of high conservation significance, but remains poorly studied. Identifying priority conservation areas requires a greater understanding of the habitat associations of these bird communities, and of how spatial scale of analysis can influence the interpretation of these associations. This study aims to determine which proxy habitat measures, at which spatial scales of analysis, can provide useful inferential data on the composition of Wallacean forest avifauna. Research was conducted within the Lambusango forest reserve, South-East Sulawesi, using point count surveys to sample avifauna. Habitat properties were characterised in three ways: broad classification of forest type, canopy remotely-sensed response derived from satellite imagery, and in situ measures of vegetation composition and structure. Furthermore, we examined avifauna–habitat relationships at three spatial scales: area (c.400 ha per sample site), transect (c.10 ha) and point (c.0.2 ha). Results demonstrate that broad forest type classifications at an area scale can help to determine conservation value, indicating that primary and old secondary forests are important for supporting many species with lower ecological tolerances, such as large-bodied frugivores. At the transect-scale, significant congruence occurs between bird community composition and several habitat variables derived from vegetation sampling and satellite imagery, particularly tree size, undergrowth density, and Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values; this highlights the importance small scale habitat associations can have on determining α-diversity. Analysis at the point-scale was ineffective in providing proxy indications for avifauna. These findings should be considered when determining future priority conservation areas for Wallacean avifauna.