Community assembly mechanisms are of particular interest between species with similar resource requirements and ecosystem roles that may interact intensely. As a big group of bird species coexist in forest, passerine (Aves: Passeriformes) bird community is an ideal example to study community assembly mechanisms.
Researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) described the diversity patterns of passerine communities along an elevational gradient in the northern Ailao Mountains in southwest China. They got their study published in Ecology and Evolution.
The researchers investigated the dominant processes structuring passerine bird communities, and how these processes change from wintering to breeding seasons, utilizing taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic perspectives.
A total of 139 bird species (3,125 detections) were recorded in the three plots (40 ha each) in the two seasons, including 125 passerine species and 14 nonpasserine species.
The species accumulation curve (SAC) showed eight repeats were sufficient to record the passerine bird community of the three 40 ha forest plots both in wintering and breeding seasons.
The passerine bird community of the high elevation had the highest species richness, but the lowest species evenness observed mean pairwise functional and phylogenetic distance in both seasons compared to the other community.
Their research confirmed highest species richness and distinct composition of the protected moist evergreen broadleaf forests in Ailao Mountains.
They also highlight a constant clustered functional and phylogenetic structure for high elevations and an absence of functional and phylogenetic structure for low elevation, with a tendency for interspecific competition in the breeding season to shape passerine bird community structure.
LIN Luxiang Ph.D Principal Investigator
Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China