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Title: High sensitivity of montane bird communities to habitat disturbance in Peninsular Malaysia
Authors: Soh, M.C.K. 
Sodhi, N.S. 
Lim, S.L.H.
Keywords: Avifauna
Human disturbance
Southeast Asia
Issue Date: Apr-2006
Citation: Soh, M.C.K., Sodhi, N.S., Lim, S.L.H. (2006-04). High sensitivity of montane bird communities to habitat disturbance in Peninsular Malaysia. Biological Conservation 129 (2) : 149-166. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Over the past few decades, the montane forests of Peninsula Malaysia have been severely impacted by the cultivation of exotic crops and urban sprawl. To guide conservation initiatives, montane bird communities were studied to determine their response along a disturbance gradient with the aim of identifying key factors influencing their distribution. Habitat types surveyed included primary and secondary montane forests, a tea plantation, rural, and urban areas in Cameron Highlands and Fraser's Hill. Response variables included species richness and density quantified via point counts and mistnet surveys. Explanatory variables measured were related to vegetation structure, food abundance and land-use cover. Estimated 'true' species richness was higher for pristine and minimally disturbed sites, lower in tea plantation and lowest in heavily developed town centres. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling revealed that both vegetation structure (e.g. canopy density) and land-use cover (e.g. proportion of forest cover) influence species distribution; certain invasive lowland birds were tolerant of extreme development and native montane birds, in general, endured only slight habitat disturbances. A simulation indicated that montane forest dependant species richness started to decline when more than 20% of the canopy cover was lost. Less than a third of the species richness remained when more than 40% of the canopy cover was cleared. The logistic regression model suggested that sensitive species nested lower, were restricted to montane habitats and foraged in mid or high canopy. The dominance of lowland invasives in highly developed urban sites reveals that homogenisation of bird communities can occur even at higher altitudes (>1400 m a.s.l.). The results indicated that native montane birds communities are sensitive to habitat loss and degradation. Thus, any development in the highlands must proceed with minimal disturbance to montane forests, of which, keeping the canopy cover intact should be a crucial consideration. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Source Title: Biological Conservation
ISSN: 00063207
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2005.10.030
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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