Edge effect and structure of mixed-species bird flocks in an Afrotropical lowland forest

Abstract

Avian mixed-species flocks are a dominant feature of tropical moist forests, yet their cost–benefit balance and habitat dependence in Africa are not fully documented. We recorded the composition of mixed-species bird flocks in a pristine Afrotropical lowland forest site in Salonga NP, DRC. Our data showed that at least four types of flock existed, one of which specialized on edge habitats. We used multivariate analyses to further characterize edge effect on the most documented mixed-species flock type and found a significant effect on flock composition. While neither species guild nor preferential foraging stratum played an important role in flock participation, the nucleus role was played by a different species at the edge and in the interior, and both species abundance and associations were habitat-dependant, suggesting “domino effects” on the structure of mixed-species flocks.

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Acknowledgments

G.P. thanks G. Hohmann, leader of the project Lui Kotal, and the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology for having allowed him access to the research site. We are grateful for the helpful comments of reviewers of a previous draft of this article.

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Correspondence to Guillaume Péron.

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Communicated by J. Fjieldså.

Appendices

Appendix 1

Table 5 Species seen more than once in 65 mixed-species flocks in Lui Kotal, Salonga N P. South, DRC

Appendix 2

Table 6 Species score in the NMDS ordination

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Péron, G., Crochet, PA. Edge effect and structure of mixed-species bird flocks in an Afrotropical lowland forest. J Ornithol 150, 585–599 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-009-0376-4

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Keywords

  • Flock size
  • Heterospecific
  • Multi-species
  • Mutualism
  • Salonga