Do environment and behaviour mediate co-occurrence of functional traits in birds?

Submitted by editor on 26 September 2017.Get the paper!

This work is the fruit of the long-lasting cooperation with Jan Habel and Luc Lens who acquainted me, being rather a theoretical ecologist, to East African bird ecology, conservation, and evolution. Environmental – trait relationships are a hot topic and thus I mailed to all co-authors whether they were interested in applying a matrix technique that was recently developed by Nick Gotelli and me for phylogenetic analysis. Of course they were interested and the results are a first demonstration of how the pattern of bird species co-occurrences in tropical forest remnants is mediated by the joint effects of species characteristics and the environment. Instead of studying community composition, as has been done traditionally in community ecology, we focus on the spatial co-occurrence of species traits. Importantly, this approach can been extended to compound measures of performance, like multi-functionality or productivity. We hope that our approach initiates such an extended perspective on community assembly.


The photos: Tangara seledon: The green-headed tanager is a small bird found in the Brazilian Atlantic forest.  Photo Cristina Banks-Leite
The mountain white eye (Zosterops poliogastrus) is found in East African mountain regions and has been intensively studied by Luc and Jan with respect to genetic structure and behavioural variability. Photo Jan Christian Habel.

The authors through: Werner Ulrich

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