Main content area

Patch Size and Tree Species Influence the Number and Duration of Bird Visits in Forest Restoration Plots in Southern Costa Rica

Fink, Rebecca D., Lindell, Catherine A., Morrison, Emily B., Zahawi, Rakan A., Holl, Karen D.
Restoration ecology 2009 v.17 no.4 pp. 479-486
Erythrina poeppigiana, Inga edulis, Thraupidae, arthropods, birds, canopy, foods, forest restoration, ingestion, leaves, pastures, predation, risk, seeds, trees, tropical forests, Costa Rica
Efforts to restore tropical forest in abandoned pasture are likely to be more successful when bird visitation is promoted because birds disperse seeds and eat herbivorous arthropods that damage leaves. Thus, it is critical to understand bird behavior in relation to different restoration strategies. We measured the likelihood of visitation, number of visits, and duration of visits for all birds and for Cherrie's Tanager (Ramphocelus costaricensis), a common seed disperser, in five sizes of forest restoration patches planted with four tree species in southern Costa Rica. We predicted that the largest patches, and the tree species with the greatest canopy cover, would be visited most frequently and have the longest visits because we assumed that these patch types had the greatest food resources and the lowest predation risk. We found that birds were more likely to visit large patches and the tree species with the highest canopy cover (Inga edulis). Birds visited Inga trees more often and stayed in Inga and Erythrina poeppigiana trees for longer periods of time than in other tree species. We found similar results for Cherrie's Tanagers. Thus, we identified two factors, tree species and patch size, which may be manipulated in restoration projects to increase bird visitation.