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Community composition, species richness, and abundance of birds in field margins of central Mexico: local and landscape-scale effects

Agroforestry Systems


Field margin vegetation is among the last vestiges of semi-natural habitat for birds in many agricultural landscapes of tropical regions. However, field margins differ in size, structure, and flora, and their value to birds depends on all these factors and on species-specific habitat preferences. Therefore, we analyzed data on resident and neotropical migratory birds found in 40 field margins of the agricultural landscape of El Bajio, Guanajuato, Mexico. The structural and botanical characteristics of the field margin, and those of the adjacent landscape, were related to bird species richness and abundance. We recorded 61 species of birds of which 36 were migratory. Locally, the size of the field margin (width, height, volume), its vegetative vertical complexity, and the abundance of trees and tree species had a positive effect on bird species richness and abundance. Native trees, especially mesquites, were especially important for many birds observed foraging, nesting, and perching. The most important landscape-scale variables were the density of hedgerows around field margins and the distance to natural vegetation remnants (scrub forest). Bird species richness and abundance were positively affected by the length of the hedgerows within 100 and 200-m-radius circles centered on each field margin. Field margins closer to natural vegetation also had more bird species and individuals. On the basis of our results, we suggest some general management recommendations for improving the habitat for birds in tropical agricultural landscapes.

Author(s): Zuria, I; Gates, JE

Journal: Agroforestry Systems

Year: 2013