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Variation in avian communities between isolated units of the Eastern Arc Montane Forests, Tanzania

Variation in avian communities between isolated units of the Eastern Arc Montane Forests, Tanzania

Gerfaut 85: 3-18

ISSN/ISBN: 0251-1193

The forest avifauna was studied in 11 isolated forest "islands" in the Eastern Arc Mountains in Tanzania and compared with that of the Udzungwa and Usambara highlands, which are extensive and connected with other forest ecosystems ("mainlands"). Most forests were studied during rapid (2-5 days) surveys with mistnetting and timed species counts (25 one-hectare plots or four hours' line transects). A standardization of the data-gathering during such surveys will facilitate comparisons of different forests and give an idea about variations in community structure. The statistical analysis shows that the forest "islands" have fewer species than the two "mainland" areas, but that the species richness is remarkably constant (42-50 species) between the isolates, irrespective of their extension or habitat quality. Typical Eastern Arc rank-ordered species abundance curves are "shouldered": with high abundance of several species and a rather short "tail" of low-density species. These resistant communities include many widespread species which may be well adapted to shifting eco-climatic conditions and human environmental impacts. However, other species exist only in one part of the mountain range, or have a disjunct (relict) distribution in the Udzungwa and Usambara mountains.

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Accession: 034184863

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