While forest structure recovery in successional tropical forests is well studied, the recovery of fauna and changes in species composition and assemblage along forests succession is not well understood in many areas of the Neotropics like tropical dry forests (TDFs). Background and Objectives:
To compare bird species richness and assemblage in tropical dry forests (TDFs) of different ages of recovery from cattle ranching and relate both to forest structural characteristics. Materials and Methods:
To sample bird species richness and assemblage in 16 successional forest of different ages (i.e., 20, 30, 40, and 60 years old) using autonomous sound recording units in the TDFs in Costa Rica. Results:
A total of 64 species of birds was detected across all forest age classes. The highest species richness was found in the 20-year-old class. Species richness decreased as canopy openness increased, suggesting low forest structural complexity and low availability of perches, nesting sites and food sources. However, bird assemblages were similar among the different forest age classes, suggesting that age itself was not a strong predictor, likely because of high variation in structure within age classes. Conclusions:
TDFs can recover structural characteristics important to birds in only a few decades, supporting a rapid bird species assemblage recovery. However, this seems to depend on the starting conditions of the site prior to being recovered. Young TDFs, 20 years old, provide similar habitats for birds as 60-year-old forests do. These findings provide relevant information on the influence of TDF recovery after severe human impact on a highly threatened ecosystem.
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