Recent Paper: Coffee Agroforests Remain Beneficial for Neotropical Bird Community Conservation across Seasons

A new paper in PloS ONE shows similar bird species suites in shade-grown coffee plantations vs. secondary forests, after accounting for detectability and seasonality: 

Abstract: Coffee agroforestry systems and secondary forests have been shown to support similar bird communities but comparing these habitat types are challenged by potential biases due to differences in detectability between habitats. Furthermore, seasonal dynamics may influence bird communities differently in different habitat types and therefore seasonal effects should be considered in comparisons. To address these issues, we incorporated seasonal effects and factors potentially affecting bird detectability into models to compare avian community composition and dynamics between coffee agroforests and secondary forest fragments. In particular, we modeled community composition and community dynamics of bird functional groups based on habitat type (coffee agroforest vs. secondary forest) and season while accounting for variation in capture probability (i.e. detectability). The models we used estimated capture probability to be similar between habitat types for each dietary guild, but omnivores had a lower capture probability than frugivores and insectivores. Although apparent species richness was higher in coffee agroforest than secondary forest, model results indicated that omnivores and insectivores were more common in secondary forest when accounting for heterogeneity in capture probability. Our results largely support the notion that shade-coffee can serve as a surrogate habitat for secondary forest with respect to avian communities. Small coffee agroforests embedded within the typical tropical countryside matrix of secondary forest patches and small-scale agriculture, therefore, may host avian communities that resemble those of surrounding secondary forest, and may serve as viable corridors linking patches of forest within these landscapes. This information is an important step toward effective landscape-scale conservation in Neotropical agricultural landscapes.

Citation: Hernandez SM, Mattsson BJ, Peters VE, Cooper RJ, Carroll CR (2013) Coffee Agroforests Remain Beneficial for Neotropical Bird Community Conservation across Seasons. PLoS ONE 8(9): e65101. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065101