The importance of agricultural areas for bird conservation in the Korup region, south-western Cameroon
AbstractRecent studies have shown that a relatively high number of individuals and species from the natural forest fauna can still be found in land use systems. To detect key parameters for population development and preconditions for long-term suitability of different land use systems for forest bird populations, we investigated patterns of species richness and abundance of understorey birds using mist-net data, in 24 study sites equally distributed over two types of natural and two types of agricultural habitats. We also assessed arthropod availability, nesting sites, parasite loads, and fault bars for trapped birds. We recorded high numbers of birds in all habitats but with a tendency for smaller species with increasing habitat modification. Our data support the idea that arthropod richness and density attract many understorey forest birds in agricultural areas but that environmental stress in these habitats might be high since numbers of bird species and individuals presenting fault bars were significantly higher in the agricultural matrix. In the Afrotropical context, the management of agricultural areas should consider preserving some aspects of natural habitats, and a fallow period of five to eight years, to avoid biodiversity loss.
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