ABSTRACT

Eucalypt plantations alter the physical and chemical conditions of the environment, and the value of such plantations for biodiversity conservation is controversial. Research on their potential effects on native Neotropical bird communities has focused on taxonomic diversity, while its impacts on other ecological aspects remain only partially explored. We used camera traps to compare habitat use and activity patterns of an understory bird assemblage between a native forest and an adjacent eucalypt plantation in the Colombian Andes. Six and seven understory bird species comprised the eucalypt plantation and the native forest assemblages, respectively. Habitat use of the White-throated Quail-Dove (Zentrigon frenata), Sickle-winged Guan (Chamaepetes goudotii), and antpittas was significantly lower in the plantation, whereas brushfinches used both forest types equally. Each species showed coefficients of activity that overlapped above 59%, suggesting the overall activity patterns of the understory birds were similar in both forest types. However, activity peaks of most species were slightly different between the 2 forests. Despite the fact that these areas are adjacent to one another, and that this eucalypt plantation has undergone 50 years of understory growth, our results indicate that this exotic plantation does not constitute a suitable habitat for most Andean understory birds. We found that eucalypt plantation effects on bird assemblages go beyond their taxonomic diversity and affect other ecological aspects such as their patterns of activity. Our study provides new insights on activity patterns of Andean birds and highlights the need for assessing the value of exotic plantations as a surrogate habitat for understory bird conservation.

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