Rebekah Mayhew

PhD Research Student

BSc. (Hons) Ecology, University of Stirling (2012)

Dr Daisy DentDr Kirsty Park (University of Stirling)
Dr Joseph Tobias (University of Oxford)

Visiting: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Start Date: 1st January 2014

4V5 Cottrell Building
Biological & Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Natural Sciences
University of Stirling
Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA

tel: +44 (0)1786 467794
fax: +(44) 1786 467843

Research Project

The species and functional composition of bird communities in regenerating tropical forests

Deforestation and degradation of tropical old-growth forests can potentially cause mass species extinctions. Expansion of regenerating secondary forest may mitigate the loss of old-growth forest but the role that secondary forest can play in the conservation of old-growth forest species hinges on whether these forest ecosystems can maintain similar species composition and function as old-growth forest. 

While many old-growth forest species can persist in secondary forest, species respond very differently to disturbance and this response tends to depend on species’ traits. These traits also determine a species’ contribution to ecosystem processes (e.g. the relationship between bird beak morphology and seed dispersal). Therefore, by describing communities using morphological and life-history traits we can make more general statements about which species are most at risk from loss of old-growth forest and begin to understand the implications of changing community composition on ecosystem processes (e.g. pollination and dispersal).

This project aims to describe the species and functional composition of bird communities in 5-120-year-old secondary forest stands in Panama, where tree species and functional composition are well described. We will identify how bird assemblages relate to tree community composition along the successional gradient and test the link between particular morphological traits and their role in ecosystem processes.

Funding Acknowledgements

Carnegie Caledonian Scholarship funded by The Carnegie Trust for The Universities of Scotland

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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