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28 February 2020 Effects of Forest Fragmentation on Feather Corticosterone Levels in an Amazonian Avian Community
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Abstract

In the Amazon, the construction of hydroelectric dams is an emergent driver of biodiversity loss, creating numerous land-bridge islands, most of them unable to sustain an assemblage of bird species comparable to the intact forest. Although we understand the effects of forest fragmentation on species richness and distribution, we still need to uncover the physiological mechanisms underlying the success of organisms living in disturbed habitats. In this study, we used feather corticosterone levels as a measurement of physiological indicators of stress, evaluating whether corticosterone levels mirror the effects of habitat fragmentation on species occurrence. Since data suggest that smaller islands can reduce habitat suitability, increasing stress in birds that live within them, we predicted that birds living in smaller islands would present increased feather corticosterone levels. We captured birds in 13 islands of varying size and in two continuous forests and analysed feather corticosterone levels of 265 individuals from eight different species. Overall, our findings did not support the hypothesis that corticosterone varies in relation to island size, except for the Guianan Antwarbler Hypocnemis cantator, which presented the predicted pattern: decreasing feather corticosterone levels with increasing island size. These differences suggest that species respond differently to stressors driven by fragmentation. Further studies are necessary to assess the reliability of corticosterone levels as a physiological measurement of stress and to determine which parameters are useful to understand how insularisation caused by human activities may influence the resistance of avian populations to habitat disturbances. —Bicudo, T., Anciães, M., Arregui, L. & Gil, D. (2020). Effects of forest fragmentation on feather corticosterone levels in an Amazonian avian community. Ardeola, 67: 229-245.

Thiago Bicudo, Marina Anciães, Lucia Arregui, and Diego Gil "Effects of Forest Fragmentation on Feather Corticosterone Levels in an Amazonian Avian Community," Ardeola 67(2), 229-245, (28 February 2020). https://doi.org/10.13157/arla.67.2.2020.ra1
Received: 5 August 2019; Accepted: 11 December 2019; Published: 28 February 2020
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