Rebekah Mayhew (PhD student, University of Stirling) Deforestation and degradation of tropical old-growth forest (OG) has the potential to cause mass species extinctions. Expansion of regenerating secondary forest (SF) may mitigate the loss of OG, but the role that SF can play in conservation of OG species hinges on whether these forest ecosystems can maintain similar species composition and function as OG.
While many OG species can persist in SF, species respond very differently to disturbance and this response tends to depend on species’ ecological and morphological traits. A species’ traits determine its contribution to ecosystem processes (e.g. seed dispersal and pollination).
This project will study the species and functional composition of bird communities across a chronosequence of SF areas in Panama, testing the link between particular morphological traits and their role in ecosystem processes. Identifying how bird assemblages relate to SF habitats across the successional gradient will elucidate the role SF can play in mitigating OG habitat loss. (Rebekah’s Stirling Uni website)