Habitat and life history determinants of antbird occurrence in variable-sized Amazonian forest fragments

Alexander C. Lees, Carlos A. Peres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The highest avian species richness on Earth is found in the Neotropics, with the speciose antbird superfamily (Thamnophilidae, Formicariidae, Grallariidae and Conopophagidae) accounting for 15 percent of South American passerine diversity. Antbird species have divergent life histories and ecological requirements, resulting in considerable interspecific variation in responses to anthropogenic habitat modification. Here, we examine interspecific differences in antbird responses to both habitat fragmentation and perturbation in a region of the so-called 'Arc of Deforestation' of southern Brazilian Amazonia in northern Mato Grosso. We surveyed the antbird community of 31 variable-sized forest patches and found that antbird species richness was predominantly affected by patch size and isolation, although forest patch quality was also important. Life history predictors were less important overall in determining patch occupancy and minimum patch area requirements with body mass and geographic range size the most important predictors. Foraging niche was also important; mixed flock followers, bamboo specialists and army-ant followers were all more prone to local extinction in small fragments. Although most Amazonian antbird species are not currently threatened, rates of interfluvial endemism are high and future forest loss may imperil many species currently considered to be of low conservation concern. Lessons learnt in the identification of fragmentation-sensitive genera and guilds may be applicable to other antbird species outside Amazonia, such as those in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Ensuring future survival of antbirds across neotropical forest landscapes that retain only a small percentage of their original primary forest cover will rest on protecting remaining large forest patches and maintaining structural and functional connectivity between them. Abstract in Portuguese is available at http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/btp.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)614-621
Number of pages8
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010

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