Habitat-Island Effects on the Avian Community in Cypress Ponds

Breeding season bird communities were sampled using point counts on 12 cypress-pond habitat islands in central Florida during May and June 1983. Habitat islands studied ranged from 7 to 229 ha in size. Of 38 species of birds detected, none was restricted to islands larger than 20 ha. Contrary to theoretical predictions, total species richness did not increase with island area. Both species richness and total counts on the sample points were negatively correlated with island area parameters and distance from island perimeter. Both species richness and total counts were positively correlated with snag density and spatial heterogeneity of overstory trees. Individual species responded to different vegetation characteristics in the islands. The negative correlation between island area and species richness was attributed to edge-effect and the paucity of neotropical migrants in the Southeast. A system of cypress ponds at least 10 to 20 ha in size was adequate to maintain the avian community using this vegetation type in central Florida.

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