TitleThe effect of land-use on the diversity and mass-abundance relationships of understory avian insectivores in Sri Lanka and southern India.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSreekar R, Srinivasan U, Mammides C, Chen J, Goodale UManage, Kotagama SWimalaband, Sidhu S, Goodale E
JournalSci Rep
Date Published2015

Understory avian insectivores are especially sensitive to deforestation, although regional differences in how these species respond to human disturbance may be linked to varying land-use histories. South Asia experienced widespread conversion of forest to agriculture in the nineteenth century, providing a comparison to tropical areas deforested more recently. In Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats of India, we compared understory insectivores to other guilds, and to insectivores with different vertical strata preferences, both inside mixed-species flocks and for the whole bird community. Overall species richness did not change across the land-use gradient, although there was substantial turnover in species composition between land-use types. We found that the proportion of species represented by insectivores was ~1.14 times higher in forest compared to agriculture, and the proportion of insectivores represented by understory species was ~1.32 times higher in forests. Mass-abundance relationships were very different when analyzed on mixed-species flocks compared to the total community, perhaps indicating reduced competition in these mutualisms. We show that South Asia fits the worldwide pattern of understory insectivores declining with increased land-use intensity, and conclude that these species can be used globally as indicator and/or umbrella species for conservation across different disturbance time scales.

Alternate JournalSci Rep
PubMed ID26108368
PubMed Central IDPMC4479823