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Vegetation structure, foraging efficiency, food availability and relative habitat area influence bird distributions in the Amazon

Principal Investigator: Daniel Lebbin, PhD candidate, Cornell University


Dan working inside a bamboo thicket

In the southwest Amazon basin, Guadua bamboo thickets support a diverse group of birds, including many that live nowhere else. I hope to learn why many species of birds only live in bamboo thickets by investigating how vegetation structure, foraging efficiency, food availability and relative habitat area influence bird distributions. I will compare ambient light, leaf shapes and stem measurements between bamboo, forest, Gynerium cane, Tesseria groves and Mauritia palm swamps. I studied foraging efficiency and food availability using by observing the foraging behavior of three closely-related species of small tyrant-flycatchers: Hemitriccus flammulatus, which lives in bamboo only; H. griseipectus, living in mature forest only; and Lophotriccus eulophotes in both bamboo and tierra firme forest. Comparing the foraging behavior of these birds in forest and bamboo habitat may reveal if vegetation structure is influencing foraging rates and if birds find more insect prey in bamboo. Finally, I conducted a census of the bird communities inhabiting many bamboo patches, which may reveal which patch attributes are important to birds that specialize on bamboo. Research was conducted at Cocha Cashu and Playa Bonita within Manu National Park, a bamboo patch in Oceania (about 6 km from Iberia, near the border of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil) along the Rio Tahuamanu, and at several sites within the Los Amigos watershed. I am currently analyzing data collected during 2003 and 2004.


Camp at Playa Bonita, 12 km north of Cocha Cashu

For more information on ornithology at Los Amigos, including a list of birds at Los Amigos, please follow the following link http://www.amazonconservation.org/home/LosAmigos/ornithology.htm.

CONTACT
Daniel J. Lebbin
Cornell University
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
E148 Corson Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
607-254-4240 (this phone is shared with another office)
djl42@cornell.edu