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Astudillo P.X.,University of Marburg | Astudillo P.X.,University of Azuay | Samaniego G.M.,University of Azuay | Machado P.J.,University of Azuay | And 5 more authors.
Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment | Year: 2014

National parks are an important tool for conserving biodiversity, particularly in areas of high biodiversity and endemism such as the tropical Andes. However, national parks often face a variety of stressors related to recreation, road construction and illegal extraction of natural resources. Unfortunately, the influence of these stressors for biodiversity is rarely well documented. Cajas National Park in Ecuador is no exception. Despite being traversed by the Cuenca-Molleturo-Naranjal road, effects of the road construction on biodiversity have not been determined. We therefore assessed the influence of road proximity on bird species richness and abundance as well as composition of bird habitat groups in Cajas National Park using transect walks at 25 m and 250 m distance to the road (overall 18 transects, each 1 km length). In total, we recorded 1110 individuals of 28 páramo bird species. Overall species richness did not differ between transects near and far from the road. Nevertheless, the average abundance of shrubby páramo species was significantly higher far from the road than near the road (Far = 36, Near = 25). Moreover, we found a tendency towards differences in the composition of bird habitat groups between transects near and far from the road. One aspect potentially driving the observed patterns was the increasing proportion of planted non-native woody tree species within páramo grassland near the road, which may have caused reduced abundances of shrubby páramo bird species there. While roads represented a clear impact on the composition of bird species in the páramo, the major effect seems to be driven by the introduction of non-native plant species along the roadside. In order to reduce the impact of roads to a minimum, we suggest that park managers should control the introduction of such plant species. © 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

Latta S.C.,National Aviary United States | Tinoco B.A.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Astudillo P.X.,University of Azuay | Graham C.H.,State University of New York at Stony Brook
Condor | Year: 2011

The tropical Andes rank first among the world's 25 "hotspots" of biodiversity and endemism yet are threatened and little studied. We contrast population trends in avian diversity in montane cloud forest (bosque altoandino) and similar forest degraded by the planting of introduced tree species (bosque introducido) in the Mazán Reserve, Ecuador. We describe changes in bird diversity and abundance in these habitats over 12 years and evaluate the nature of change within these avian communities. On the basis of 2976 count detections and 419 net captures of 76 species of landbirds, indices of similarity between the habitats were low, with only 47.6% of species occurring in both forest types. From 1994-95 to 2006-07, species richness decreased from 54 to 31 in bosque introducido and from 67 to 30 in bosque altoandino. Capture rates also declined from 56.0 to 28.5 birds per 100 mist-net hr in bosque introducido and from 38.0 to 22.4 birds per 100 mist-net hr in bosque altoandino. We explore various potentially interacting factors that might have caused the observed changes in bird communities, including changes in vegetation within the Mazán Reserve and environmental changes resulting from global warming. But our results also suggest that local and regional changes in habitat outside of the Mazán Reserve were likely responsible for some community changes within the reserve. We argue for increased population monitoring to verify trends and to strengthen the effectiveness of conservation efforts in the Andes. Copyright © The Cooper Ornithological Society 2011.

Astudillo P.X.,University of Azuay | Tinoco B.A.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Graham C.H.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Latta S.C.,National Aviary United States
Ornitologia Neotropical | Year: 2011

The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) is a critically endangered species in Ecuador and is threatened at the global scale. We tested three methods (feeding stations, transects, and point counts) to estimate local population size of Andean Condors in Cajas National Park (CNP) in the southern Andes of Ecuador. We conducted 128 h of observations at two feeding stations, walked 24.8 km over 60 h along montane transects, and conducted 20 45-min point counts (total time = 15 h) located along these transects. In total, six different condors were observed, three at the feeding stations and at point counts, and three others at feeding stations only. No condors were recorded while walking transects. One of the individually identified birds was an adult male, while two more birds were adults of unknown sex. The low abundance of condors possibly results from ranching and fanning activities, especially at the southern border of Cajas National Park, and beyond the park borders where persecution and hunting of Andean Condors persist. Feeding stations are a powerful tool to monitor Andean Condor populations and such a protocol is recommended for CNP and elsewhere. © The Neotropical Ornithological Society.

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