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Does canopy condition matter? A study of the effects of climate change and management on bird foraging behaviour in cork oak trees in Portugal

2012Does canopy condition matter? A study of the effects of climate change and management on bird foraging behaviour in cork oak trees in Portugal.HASKELL Whitney (United States)whitney.haskell@gmail.com
Organisation:University of East Anglia, Norwich (UK)Supervisor :Aldina Franco
Summary: In the Mediterranean basin, there has been a well-documented decrease in rainfall, likely due to climate change, and the resulting water stress has lead to widespread defoliation of several evergreen tree species. However, the effects of canopy degradation on bird species that forage in the trees are not well understood. This project assessed the selection of cork oak (Quercus suber) trees by birds in southern Portugal. Characteristics measured included canopy structure and condition, caterpillar biomass, and bird species richness and abundance. Observations of behaviour within the cork oak canopy were also made to supplement the bird presence data. The findings provide evidence to support the assertion that sustainable management practices are essential for the persistence of cork oak woodlands, the biodiversity they support and the economic livelihoods they provide. This project also adds to the greater body of knowledge required to best predict future community structure changes due to climate change. Further research is recommended to assess the impacts of cork oak canopy degradation on additional taxonomic groups.
Keywords:Agro-silvopasture, Cork oak, Quercus suber, Habitat management, Species richness