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Data from: Low species turnover of upland Amazonian birds in the absence of physical barriers

Cite this dataset

Rutt, Cameron et al. (2022). Data from: Low species turnover of upland Amazonian birds in the absence of physical barriers [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim: One of the oldest and most powerful ways for ecologists to explain distinct biological communities is to invoke underlying environmental differences. But in hyper-diverse systems, which often display high species richness and low species abundance, these sorts of community comparisons are especially challenging. The classic view for Amazonian birds posits that riverine barriers and habitat specialization determine local and regional community composition. We test the tacit, complementary assumption that similar bird communities should therefore permeate uniform habitat between major rivers, regardless of distance.

Location: Upland (terra firme) rainforests of central Amazonia.

Results: In all, we detected 244 forest-dependent birds, with an average of 190 species (78%) per plot. Species turnover was negligible, no unique indicator species were found among plot pairs, and all documented species were already known from a complete inventory at one of the three sites.

Main conclusions: Our study corroborates the classic biogeographical pattern and suggests that turnover contributes little to regional avian diversity within upland forests. Using a grain size of 100 ha, this implies that upland birds perceive the environment as uniform, at least over distances of ~60 km. Therefore, to maximize both local species richness and population persistence, our findings support the conservation of very large tracts of upland rainforest. Our analyses also revealed that the avifauna at Reserva Ducke, encroached by urban sprawl from the city of Manaus, shows the hallmarks of a disturbed community, with fewer vulnerable insectivores. This defaunation signals that even an enormous preserve (10 × 10 km) in lowland Amazonia is not insulated from anthropogenic degradation within the surrounding landscape.


We conducted intensive whole-community surveys of birds in three pairs of 100-ha plots, separated by 40-60 km. We then used dissimilarity indices, cluster analysis, and ordination to characterize differences among the six avian communities.


National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: 94098

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: 94327