Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share by email
Ecological traits affect the response of tropical forest bird species to land-use intensity

Tim Newbold, Jorn P W Scharlemann, Stuart H M Butchart, Cagan A Sekercioglu, Rob Alkemade, Hollie Booth, and Drew W Purves


Land-use change is one of the main drivers of current and likely future biodiversity loss. Therefore, understanding how species are affected by it is crucial to guide conservation decisions. Species respond differently to land-use change, possibly related to their traits. Using pan-tropical data on bird occurrence and abundance across a human land-use intensity gradient, we tested the effects of seven traits on observed responses. A likelihood-based approach allowed us to quantify uncertainty in modelled responses, essential for applying the model to project future change. Compared with undisturbed habitats, the average probability of occurrence of bird species was 7.8 per cent and 31.4 per cent lower, and abundance declined by 3.7 per cent and 19.2 per cent in habitats with low and high human land-use intensity, respectively. Five of the seven traits tested affected the observed responses significantly: long-lived, large, non-migratory, primarily frugivorous or insectivorous forest specialists were both less likely to occur and less abundant in more intensively used habitats than short-lived, small, migratory, non-frugivorous/insectivorous habitat generalists. The finding that species responses to land use depend on their traits is important for understanding ecosystem functioning, because species' traits determine their contribution to ecosystem processes. Furthermore, the loss of species with particular traits might have implications for the delivery of ecosystem services.


Publication typeArticle
Published inProceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B
PublisherThe Royal Society

Newer versions

Robin Freeman, Ben Dean, Holly Kirk, Kerry Leonard, Richard A Phillips, Chris M Perrins, and Tim Guilford. Predictive ethoinformatics reveals the complex migratory behaviour of a pelagic seabird, the Manx Shearwater, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Royal Society, March 2013.

Previous versions

Tim Newbold, Stuart Butchart, Cagan Sekercioglu, Drew Purves, and Jorn Scharlemann. Mapping Functional Traits: Comparing Abundance and Presence-Absence Estimates at Large Spatial Scales, PLoS ONE, PLoS, 31 August 2012.

> Publications > Ecological traits affect the response of tropical forest bird species to land-use intensity