Habitat use of Amazonian birds varies by age and foraging guild along a disturbance gradient

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Patterns of habitat use directly influence a species' fitness, yet for many species an individual's age can influence patterns of habitat use. However, in tropical rainforests, which host the greatest terrestrial species diversity, little is known about how age classes of different species use different adjacent habitats of varying quality. We use long-term mist net data from the Amazon rainforest to assess patterns of habitat use among adult, adolescent (teenage) and young understory birds in forest fragments, primary and secondary forest at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project in Brazil. Insectivore adults were most common in primary forest, adolescents were equally likely in primary and secondary forest, and all ages were the least common in forest fragments. In contrast to insectivores, frugivores and omnivores showed no differences among all three habitat types. Our results illustrate potential ideal despotic distributions among breeding populations of some guilds of understory birds where adult insectivores may competitively exclude adolescent individuals from primary forest. Secondary forest recovery appears to hold promise as a breeding habitat for frugivore and omnivore species but only as a pre-breeding habitat for insectivores, but as the forest ages, the demographic structure of bird populations should match that of primary forest.

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Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences