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Title: Heavy extinctions of forest avifauna in Singapore: Lessons for biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia
Authors: Castelletta, M.
Sodhi, N.S. 
Subaraj, R.
Issue Date: 2000
Citation: Castelletta, M., Sodhi, N.S., Subaraj, R. (2000). Heavy extinctions of forest avifauna in Singapore: Lessons for biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia. Conservation Biology 14 (6) : 1870-1880. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The consequences of rapid rainforest clearance on native avifauna are poorly understood. In Southeast Asia, Singapore, a newly developing country, has had 95% of its native lowland rainforest cleared. Most of the rainforest was lost in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. We compared avifauna checklists from 1923, 1949, and 1998 to determine the extent of extinctions between 1923 and 1998 in Singapore. Of 203 diurnal bird species, 65 were extirpated in Singapore in the past 75 years. Four of these species were nonforest-dependent species, whereas 61 (94%) were forest bird species dependent on the primary or old secondary forest to survive. Twenty-six forest bird species became extinct between 1923 and 1949, whereas 35 forest species disappeared after 1949. We compared the body lengths, feeding guilds, and vertical feeding zones between extinct and extant forest bird species to determine whether extinction patterns were dependent on these characteristics. Larger forest bird species went extinct between 1923 and 1949. Body sizes, however, did not affect the loss of forest bird species between 1949 and 1998. We observed high losses of insectivorous birds; the insectivore-carnivore and insectivore-granivore guilds lost >80% of the species present in 1923. The highest losses were among birds that fed in the canopy. None of the forest bird species are currently common (>100 individuals/species) within Singapore. Our study shows that more than half the forest avifauna became locally extinct after extensive deforestation. Based on this fact, the countries within Southeast Asia should reconsider their heavy deforestation practices.
Source Title: Conservation Biology
ISSN: 08888892
DOI: 10.1046/j.1523-1739.2000.99285.x
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