Christmas Bird Counts Suggest Regional-Scale Environmental Change in North West Ecuador

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Identifying contemporary environmental change in the tropics is difficult - long-term concurrent data sets are limited and few researchers work in these environments. Recent efforts to monitor change in bird diversity and occupancy through the use of Christmas Bird Counts, organized and collated by the Audubon Society, in North America have proved very fruitful. Additionally, informal bird lists have been used to test for bird extinctions in Ecuador. Today, Christmas Bird Counts occur throughout the Neotropics and offer similar opportunities to identify trends in the composition and variation in bird species at specific locations scattered throughout Central and South America. One of the longest, continuous counts occurs in Mindo, NW Ecuador: the count began in 1995. Most of the vegetation covering the Mindo valley is secondary-succession wet montane 'cloud forest' with a few remnants of original primary forest. This has created a mosaic of abandoned pastures, second-growth forest, dense stands of Chusquea sp. bamboo, and a few pristine forest remnants. The dense coverings of moss and epiphytes in the valley's forest promote very high biodiversity, particularly in terms of birds and insects. Utilizing this data set we attempt to show changes in species composition in the Mindo valley area over time using this 18-year record and compare this with known environmental changes in NW Ecuador.


Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting (AAG)


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