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Conservation of ecosystem services does not secure the conservation of birds in a Peruvian shade coffee landscape

  • RAF AERTS (a1) (a2), SARAH SPRANGHERS (a1) and ÇAĞAN H. ŞEKERCIOĞLU (a2) (a3)
Summary

Agricultural intensification in shade coffee farms has strong impacts on the structure and diversity of the agroforest, with negative consequences for forest specialist birds, understorey insectivores and their associated ecosystem services. Utilising variable distance transect counts, we sampled the bird community in a multiple-certified yet changing shade coffee landscape in the Peruvian East Andean foothills, to evaluate bird functional diversity and to assess potential impacts of coffee production on avian ecosystem services. To account for incomplete detection, we also calculated expected species richness per functional group, and to evaluate the effect of future species losses, we derived reduced bird communities by subsampling our data using a Monte Carlo procedure. We compared the relative abundances of functional groups based on preferred diets in the observed, expected and reduced bird communities to global functional signatures of tropical bird assemblages of forest, agroforests and agriculture. The birds in the shade coffee landscape were predominantly birds of secondary and disturbed forest habitats, indicating, as expected, strong human impact on the forest structure. Yet, the diet signatures of the observed, expected and simulated bird communities were not significantly different from global diet signatures of forest and agroforest bird communities of mixed tropical landscapes. Our results suggest that avian ecological function can be conserved at bird community level despite intensive human ecosystem use and associated losses of forest specialist and other less resilient bird species. These results underscore that forest management strategies or certification audits focused solely at ecosystem services may be insufficient to support conservation of rare or threatened bird species and that shade coffee systems can in no way replace the role of protected natural forests.

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*Author for correspondence; e-mail: raf.aerts@kuleuven.be
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a Current address: Division Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation, University of Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31-2435, BE-3001 Leuven, Belgium.
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