Inferences about species loss following habitat conversion are typically drawn from short-term surveys, which cannot reconstruct long-term temporal dynamics of extinction and colonization. A long-term view can be critical, however, to determine the stability of communities within fragments. Likewise, landscape dynamics must be considered, as second growth structure and overall forest cover contribute to processes in fragments. Here we examine bird communities in 11 Amazonian rainforest fragments of 1–100 ha, beginning before the fragments were isolated in the 1980s, and continuing through 2007. Using a method that accounts for imperfect detection, we estimated extinction and colonization based on standardized mist-net surveys within discreet time intervals (1–2 preisolation samples and 4–5 post-isolation samples). Between preisolation and 2007, all fragments lost species in an area-dependent fashion, with loss of as few as <10% of preisolation species from 100-ha fragments, but up to 70% in 1-ha fragments. Analysis of individual time intervals revealed that the 2007 result was not due to gradual species loss beginning at isolation; both extinction and colonization occurred in every time interval. In the last two samples, 2000 and 2007, extinction and colonization were approximately balanced. Further, 97 of 101 species netted before isolation were detected in at least one fragment in 2007. Although a small subset of species is extremely vulnerable to fragmentation, and predictably goes extinct in fragments, developing second growth in the matrix around fragments encourages recolonization in our landscapes. Species richness in these fragments now reflects local turnover, not long-term attrition of species. We expect that similar processes could be operating in other fragmented systems that show unexpectedly low extinction.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 22-June-2011
Author(s): Stouffer P., Johnson E., Bierregaard R., Lovejoy T.