UBC Graduate Research

Agriculture erases climate-driven β-diversity in Neotropical bird communities Karp, Daniel Sol; Frishkoff, Luke Owen; Echeverri Ochoa, Alejandra; Zook, Jim; Juárez, Pedro José; Chan, Kai Ming Adam, 1975-

Abstract

Earth is experiencing multiple global changes that will, together, determine the fate of many species. Yet how biological communities respond to concurrent stressors at local to regional scales is largely unknown. In particular, understanding how local habitat conversion interacts with regional climate change to shape patterns in β-diversity—differences among sites in their species compositions—is critical to forecast communities in the Anthropocene. Here, we study patterns in bird β-diversity across land-use and precipitation gradients in Costa Rica. We mapped forest cover, modelled regional precipitation, and collected data on bird community composition, vegetation structure, and tree diversity across 120 sites on 20 farms to answer three questions. First, do bird communities respond more strongly to changes in land-use or climate in northwest Costa Rica? Second, does habitat conversion eliminate β-diversity across climate gradients? Third, does regional climate control how communities respond to habitat conversion and, if so, how? After correcting for imperfect detection, we found that local land-use determined community shifts along the climate gradient. In forests, bird communities were distinct between sites that differed in vegetation structure or precipitation. In agriculture, however, vegetation structure was more uniform, contributing to 7-11% less bird turnover than in forests. Additionally, bird responses to agriculture and climate were linked: agricultural communities across the precipitation gradient shared more species with dry than wet forest communities. These findings suggest that habitat conversion and anticipated climate drying will act together to exacerbate biotic homogenization.

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