Date of this Version
Khamcha et al. Avian Res (2018) 9:20
Background: Edge effects cause changes in bird community richness, abundance, and/or distribution within a landscape, but the avian guilds most influenced can vary among regions. Although Southeast Asia has the highest rates of deforestation and projected species loss, and is currently undergoing an explosive growth in road infrastructure, there have been few studies of the effects of forest edges on avian communities in this region.
Methods: We examined avian community structure in a dry evergreen forest in northeastern Thailand adjacent to a five-lane highway. We evaluated the richness and abundance of birds in 11 guilds at 24 survey points on three parallel transects perpendicular to the edge. At each point, 10-min surveys were conducted during February‒August 2014 and March‒August 2015. Vegetation measurements were conducted at 16 of the bird survey points and ambient noise was measured at all 24 survey points.
Results: We found a strongly negative response to the forest edge for bark-gleaning, sallying, terrestrial, and understory insectivores and a weakly negative response for arboreal frugivore-insectivores, foliage gleaning insectivores, and raptors. Densities of trees and the percentage canopy cover were higher in the interior, and the ambient noise was lower. In contrast, arboreal nectarivore-insectivores responded positively to the forest edge, where there was a higher vegetation cover in the ground layer, a lower tree density, and a higher level of ambient noise.
Conclusion: Planners should avoid road development in forests of high conservation value to reduce impacts on biodiversity. Where avoidance is impossible, a number of potential mitigation methods are available, but more detailed assessments of these are needed before they are applied in this region.