Remnant forest strips are frequently proposed as valuable conservation tools in fragmented tropical landscapes, yet we currently lack evidence to evaluate their potential conservation value for native biota. We examined the potential value for understorey forest birds of 30-year-old riparian and terra firme (unflooded) primary forest strips within a large silvicultural landscape in the north-east Brazilian Amazon, where the matrix is dominated by Eucalyptus plantations. We conducted mist-netting in eight forest strips connected to continuous forest (four of each forest type), with a total of 24 replicate sampling sites located near to (<1 km), far from (2.5-9 km), and within undisturbed forest controls (i.e. 16 samples within the strips, and 8 in controls). Bird communities in both strip types changed with increasing distance along forest remnants into the plantation matrix. Matrix-embedded samples were characterised by a higher representation of birds typical of secondary growth forest but not those typical of the Eucalyptus-dominated matrix. While the long-term viability of the bird populations in these remnants remains unclear, our data demonstrate that forest strips can provide important habitat for many bird species that are otherwise rarely found outside primary forest. Forest strips therefore provide an important tool to enhance biodiversity conservation in plantation landscapes. The relative practical ease with which these areas can be selected and maintained means that the protection of forest strips as part of a wider conservation strategy is likely to have particular appeal to policy makers and landscape managers working in the human-dominated tropics. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Hawes, Joseph Barlow, Jos Gardner, Toby A. Peres, Carlos A.