Habitat and Landscape-Level Conservation for Avifauna in Southern Costa Rica

Author(s): Christina Carter
Published: 2008
Type: M.E.S. Papers/Theses

Avifauna is more sensitive to habitat, landscape and farming alterations from deforestation than perhaps any other group of organisms, representing good indicators of tropical conservation efforts. Bird data were collected from point count surveys in four forest fragments (2, 7, 8 and 11 ha) and one continuos forest (189 ha) and from transects in three shade coffee plantations (2.9, 3.4 and 36.9 ha in Southern Costa Rica. The potential to improve forest habitat characteristics for avian conservation was assessed based on the influences of vegetation data (dominant tree families, tree richness, tree diversity, tree abundance, tree diameters, tree heights, tree status, sunlight and tree crown health) on birds. In addition, the potential for reforestation on privately owned farms was assessed from farmer interviews.
The results of this research show that avian conservation of forest habitats in the tropics should ensure maturity of trees (15 m tall and 50 cm wide, at 1.3 m above ground-level, include Melastomataceae, Leguminosae and Euphorbiaceae tree families, have full canopies that enclose suppressed status trees and reduce sunlight, as well as have tree abundances of 30 to 40 trees per 20 m by 20 m plots. Larger landscape-scale tropical avian conservation should ensure that intact forests are maintained. These forest fragments should be at least 8 ha in size, isolated by distances of 200 m or less and surrounded by highly diverse shade coffee plantations of approximately 3 ha in size. These types of reforestation should be encouraged to farmers through promotions, education and monetary incentives.