Horizontal and vertical species turnover in tropical birds in habitats with differing land use

Rachakonda Sreekar*, Richard T. Corlett, Salindra Dayananda, Uromi Manage Goodale, Adam Kilpatrick, Sarath W. Kotagama, Lian Pin Koh, Eben Goodale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Large tracts of tropical rainforests are being converted into intensive agricultural lands. Such anthropogenic disturbances are known to reduce species turnover across horizontal distances. But it is not known if they can also reduce species turnover across vertical distances (elevation), which have steeper climatic differences.We measured turnover in birds across horizontal and vertical sampling transects in three land-use types of Sri Lanka: protected forest, reserve buffer and intensive-agriculture, from 90 to 2100 m a.s.l. Bird turnover rates across horizontal distances were similar across all habitats, and much less than vertical turnover rates. Vertical turnover rates were not similar across habitats. Forest had higher turnover rates than the other two habitats for all bird species. Buffer and intensive-agriculture had similar turnover rates, even though buffer habitats were situated at the forest edge. Therefore, our results demonstrate the crucial importance of conserving primary forest across the full elevational range available.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170186
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Beta diversity
  • Climate change
  • Community assembly
  • Deforestation
  • Distance decay


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