With accelerated land-use change throughout the tropics, an increasing proportion of global biodiversity is located in human-modified landscapes. Understanding the relative effects of landscape composition and configuration on biodiversity is needed to design effective conservation strategies. Yet this topic is poorly understood because most studies have been performed at the patch scale, and do not assess the impact of landscape structure on species. Using a multi-model inference approach, we assessed the relative effect of landscape composition (i.e. percentage of forest cover and matrix composition) and landscape configuration (i.e. number of forest patches and forest edge density) on α- and β-diversity of birds in 17 forest fragments and three areas of continuous forest within the Lacandona rainforest, Mexico. We tested these impacts at two spatial scales (100 and 500. ha) for forest specialist and generalist birds. In general, forest specialist birds showed stronger responses to landscape characteristics than generalist species, particularly to variations in landscape composition at the 100-ha scale. The loss of forest cover represented the main threat to forest specialist birds, with a negative impact on α-diversity that was consistent across the two spatial scales. In contrast, at the two spatial scales generalist birds seemed to be favored by forest loss, as α-diversity of these birds increased in landscapes with lower forest cover and higher number of forest patches. If current deforestation rates continue, several forest specialists are likely to disappear. Future conservation and management initiatives should therefore prevent deforestation in this biodiversity-rich but vanishing tropical forest ecosystem.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Biodiversity crisis, Habitat fragmentation, Habitat loss, Human-modified landscapes, Landscape structure, Neotropical birds
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2015.01.014
Journal Biological Conservation
Carrara, E. (Emilia), Arroyo-Rodríguez, V. (Víctor), Vega-Rivera, J.H. (Jorge H.), Schondube, J.E. (Jorge E.), de Freitas, S.M. (Sandra M.), & Fahrig, L. (2015). Impact of landscape composition and configuration on forest specialist and generalist bird species in the fragmented Lacandona rainforest, Mexico. Biological Conservation, 184, 117–126. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.01.014