Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

La elevación, la estructura del hábitat y las comunidades de aves de Monteverde


Karl Fairchild



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Publication Date

November 2008


One hypothesis for why “biodiversity begets biodiversity” when this pattern is observed in bird communities is that by increasing vegetative complexity finer niche partitioning is allowed for among bird species. Bird diversity has been shown to correlate positively with vegetation structure along a successional gradient. However, no such studies have been done in actively managed areas in the tropics. I used three 50 m fixed-radius point counts each in two pairs of study sites at different elevations to compare bird diversity in structurally simple and structurally complex pastures at two different elevations in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Within each pair, one site was simple and the other complex. I measured diversity within and across study sites using a variety of indices. I found that the total number of birds, species diversity, Margalef’s index, and the Shannon-Weiner index were all highest in the low elevation site with high structural complexity. These measures were lowest at the lower elevation site with low structural complexity, and intermediate at the two higher elevation sites, which showed no significant pattern. Additionally, I found that the two structurally complex sites were most similar in terms of diversity. This information lead me to conclude that vegetative structural complexity was a more important factor in determining bird diversity than altitude. This provides more evidence to support the “diversity begets diversity” hypothesis when one considers that structural diversity leads to increased resource diversity and feeding opportunities for bird populations.


Una hipótesis del porque la “biodiversidad engendra biodiversidad” cuando se observa este patrón en las comunidades de aves es que al aumentar la complejidad vegetativa se permite una partición de nichos mas fina entre las especies de aves. La diversidad de aves se ha mostrado positivamente correlacionada con la estructura de la vegetación a través de un gradiente successional. Sin embargo, ninguno de estos estudios se ha realizado en áreas activamente manejadas en los trópicos. Yo utilice tres puntos de conteo de 50 m de radio cada uno en dos pares de sitios de estudio a diferentes elevaciones para comparar la diversidad de las aves en los potreros estructuralmente simples y complejos a dos diferentes elevaciones en Monteverde, Costa Rica.


Birds, Birds--Variation, Plant species diversity, CIEE Fall 2008

Palabras claves

Aves, Aves--Variación, Diversidad de especies de plantas, CIEE Otoño 2008


11 pages

Geographic Location

Monteverde (Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





Elevation, habitat structure and Monteverde bird communities, November 2008



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