Presentation: Land-use, Climate Change and Avian Ecosystem Services in the Montane Neotropics: Managing for Resilience.


A 3d plot generated in R, showing a simulated landscape, onto which I mapped the estimated functional richness of Villeger et al (2008), calculated for our community of Andean cloud forest birds.

The second presentation I gave at ATBC in Cairns this year was in the Symposium entitled “Intelligent design: Managing landscapes to improve the future of biodiversity conservation (organised by David P. Edwards & Roman Carrasco)”.  I presented some preliminary results of my current work in Colombia:

Abstract: The cloud forest avifauna of the Colombian Andes provides a stark example of the tropical biodi – versity crisis: high diversity and restricted distributions coincide with narrow climatic niches and in- tensive land-clearing. Birds provide critical ecosystem services in these forests, including pollina- tion, insect control, and seed dispersal, important for regeneration and carbon storage. Work else- where shows tropical species shifting up-slope, tracking their thermal niches in response to climate change. Yet we do not know how resilient avian ecosystem services are to range-shifts: do source assemblages contain the redundancy and response diversity to absorb shifts, or should we expect cascading changes to key services? Nor do we know how land-use will influence these processes: are modified landscapes permeable to shifting species? Do their assemblages provide services similar to those of primary forest?

We use field data, predictive climate niche models and a detailed functional trait matrix for 320 cloud-forest species in the Western Cordillera to explore these ques- tions. Our results suggest functional diversity is highest in primary forest, and likely to decline with increasing temperature, while evenness is high in modified landscapes, and likely to increase. Key services from understory insectivores and large frugivores are also likely to be disproportionately affected. An understanding of climate change effects on functional ecology will be critical in man – aging for resilience, but requires integration with knowledge of land-use impacts. Via links with carbon economies, an ecosystem services framework may provide economic levers for long-term conservation outcomes in these fragile landscapes.

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