The primary approach used to conserve tropical biodiversity is in the establishment of protected areas. However, many tropical nature reserves are performing poorly and interventions in the broader landscape may be essential for conserving biodiversity both within reserves and at large. Between October 2010 and 2012, we conducted bird surveys in and around a recently established nature reserve in Xishuangbanna, China. We constructed a checklist of observed species, previously recorded species, and species inferred to have occurred in the area from their distributions and habitat requirements. In addition, we assessed variation in community composition and habitat specificity at a landscape-scale. Despite the fact that the landscape supports a large area of natural forest habitat (similar to 50,000 ha), we estimate that >40% of the bird fauna has been extirpated and abundant evidence suggests hunting is the primary cause. A large proportion (52%) of the bigger birds (>20 cm) were extirpated and for large birds there was a U-shaped relationship between habitat breadth and extirpation probability. Habitat specificity was low and bird communities were dominated by widespread species of limited conservation concern. We question whether extending tropical protected area networks will deliver desired conservation gains, unless much greater effort is channeled into addressing the hunting problem both within existing protected areas and in the broader landscape.
Science & Technology - Other Topics
; SOUTHWEST CHINA
; BIRD DIVERSITY