Species turnover in tropical montane forest avifauna links to climatic correlates

Chi Feng Tsai, Ya Fu Lee, Yun Hsiu Chen, Wei Ming Chen, Yen Min Kuo

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Abstract

We examined avifauna richness and composition in Taiwan's tropical montane forests, and compared to historical records dated 22 years ago. A richness attrition of 44 species caused a discrepancy of 30.2%, and an estimated yearly turnover of 2.2%. More resident species that were narrower or lower in elevation distribution, insectivores/omnivores, small to medium-sized, forest/open-field dwelling, and canopy/ground foragers, vanished; whereas piscivores, carnivores, riparian- and shrub-dwellers, ground and mid-layer foragers, and migrants suffered by higher proportions. Occurrence frequencies of persistent species remained constant but varied among ecological groups, indicating an increased homogeneity for smaller-sized insectivores/omnivores dwelling in the forest canopy, shrub, or understory. While the overall annual temperature slightly increased, a relatively stable mean temperature was replaced by an ascending trend from the mid-1990s until 2002, followed by a cooling down. Mean maximum temperatures increased but minimums decreased gradually over years, resulting in increasing temperature differences up to over 16°C. This accompanied an increase of extreme typhoons affecting Taiwan or directly striking these montane forests during the last decade. These results, given no direct human disturbances were noted, suggest a link between the species turnover and recent climate change, and convey warning signs of conservation concerns for tropical montane assemblages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-552
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
Volume3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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