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Novel approaches to inform tropical bird conservation in human modified landscapes

Mitchell, Simon Leo (2019) Novel approaches to inform tropical bird conservation in human modified landscapes. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:76185)

Language: English

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In this thesis I utilise a combination of newly advanced methodological and statistical approaches to assess knowledge gaps concerning biodiversity in human-modified tropical landscapes. Specifically, I use cutting-edge LiDAR technology, occupancy modelling and soundscape analysis to document the responses of tropical birds to land-use change in Borneo.

I then examine whether responses of species and trait groups to habitat disruption follow linear trajectories or non-linear responses whereby abrupt changes to occupancy and diversity occur once thresholds of disturbance are exceeded. Habitat disruption across a land-cover gradient from intact forest to oil palm plantations was characterised via LiDAR metrics that quantify habitat structure in three dimensions. By scrutinising the individual responses of 171 bird species and 17 different multi-species trait groups to these metrics via hierarchical multi-species occupancy modelling, I show that the majority of species respond to habitat degradation in a non-linear fashion. I demonstrate that thresholds in species response scale up to abrupt changes in trait group richness, particularly those associated with important ecosystem functions such as pollination, seed dispersal and insectivory. I find trait groups exhibit highly varied thresholds from one another. I also highlight how exceeding particular thresholds of degradation in human modified tropical landscapes could result in abrupt changes to ecosystem functioning, thereby making human-modified tropical landscape less resilient to further perturbations.

Taken together, the three studies in this thesis reveal the biodiversity value of riparian areas, the potential for non-linear responses of species to habitat change, and the efficacy of novel monitoring techniques applied to biodiversity monitoring in human-modified tropical landscapes. I offer a number of recommendations and applications of these three sets of findings and explore their implication for biodiversity conservation in tropical regions. By addressing these three knowledge gaps using a combination of newly available innovations I demonstrate not only the importance of the findings themselves, but also highlight how innovations in technology, analytical technique and monitoring approach when used in conjunction can elucidate biodiversity patterns that were otherwise less well known.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Struebig, Matthew
Thesis advisor: Davies, Zoe
Thesis advisor: Edwards, David
Uncontrolled keywords: agriculture, riparian buffer, riparian zone, biodiversity, landuse change, fragmentation, landscape configuration, forest management, soundscapes, acoustic indices, threshold, tipping-point, biodiversity, birds, forest structure, habitat loss, human-modified tropical landscapes
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2019 16:10 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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