Climate-change scenarios project significant temperature changes for most of South America. We studied the potential impacts of predicted climate-driven change on the distribution and conservation of 26 broad-range birds from South America Cerrado biome (a savanna that also encompass tracts of grasslands and forests). We used 12 temperature or precipitation-related bioclimatic variables, nine niche modeling techniques, three general circulation models, and two climate scenarios (for 2030, 2065, 2099) for each species to model distribution ranges. To reach a consensus scenario, we used an ensemble-forecasting approach to obtain an average distribution for each species at each time interval. We estimated the range extent and shift of each species. Changes in range size varied across species and according to habitat dependency; future predicted range extent was negatively correlated with current predicted range extent in all scenarios. Evolution of range size under full or null dispersal scenarios varied among species from a 5% increase to an 80% decrease. The mean expected range shifts under null and full-dispersal scenarios were 175 and 200 km, respectively (range 15-399 km), and the shift was usually toward southeastern Brazil. We predicted larger range contractions and longer range shifts for forest- and grassland-dependent species than for savanna-dependent birds. A negative correlation between current range extent and predicted range loss revealed that geographically restricted species may face stronger threat and become even rarer. The predicted southeasterly direction of range changes is cause for concern because ranges are predicted to shift to the most developed and populated region of Brazil. Also, southeastern Brazil is the least likely region to contain significant dispersal corridors, to allow expansion of Cerrado vegetation types, or to accommodate creation of new reserves.
Summary1. Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) refers to the dierence between the right and left sides in characters that should otherwise be bilaterally symmetrical, but whose expression is aected by epigenetic stress during development. Forest fragmentation may promote an increase in FA in isolated populations, by either genetic or environmental stress. FA may function as a biomonitor index in conservation biology if increased levels were observed in populations from fragmented habitats. 2. We tested the hypothesis that FA is higher in birds from small tropical forest patches than in large forest tracts. We measured wing and tarsus FA on mist-netted birds from seven fragments and seven continuous areas from south-eastern Atlantic rain forest in Brazil. We performed FA comparisons between fragments and control groups for the whole community, for individual foraging guilds and for the six most abundant species. 3. Wing and tarsus FA were signi®cantly greater in fragments than continuous areas for the whole community and were both negatively correlated with forest fragment size. Dierences in FA varied among foraging guilds, being more evident for insectivorous species, especially those feeding in or near the understorey. 4. FA levels increased signi®cantly in forest fragments in at least one trait for ®ve of the six most abundant species. There was no correlation between tarsus and wing asymmetries for the individuals of any species nor any dierence between the degree of asymmetries of these characters. 5. We suggest that FA is a useful tool to assess the eects of fragmentation on forest birds, and may be applied in monitoring neotropical birds. FA indices might be pro®tably developed, particularly in species most threatened by fragmentation eects and when investigated in dierent morphological characters.
Brazil has one of the richest avifaunas in the world, with recent estimates varying from 1696 to 1731 species. About 10% (193 taxa) of these are threatened. The Amazon has the highest number of species, followed by the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado; most of Brazil's endemic birds, however, are in the Atlantic Forest. Brazil's threatened species occur mostly in the Atlantic Forest, especially in the southeast lowlands and the northeast. The Cerrado has the second highest number of threatened species. The two major threats to Brazilian birds are habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation and hunting, most especially for illegal commerce. A number of conservation and research initiatives over the last 20 years have significantly improved our capacity to address and resolve major issues for bird conservation. Brazil requires a National Bird Conservation Plan to draw up priorities for research and conservation over the next decade. Conservación de Aves en BrasilResumen: Brasil tiene una de las avifaunas más ricas del mundo, con estimaciones recientes que varían entre 1696 y 1731 especies. Cerca de 10% (193 taxa) de ellas están amenazadas. El Amazonas tiene el mayor número de especies, seguido por el Bosque Atlántico y el Cerrado; sin embargo, la mayoría de las aves endémicas de Brasil se encuentran en el Bosque Atlántico. Las especies amenazadas de Brasil ocurren principalmente en el Bosque Atlántico, especialmente en las tierras bajas del sureste y del noreste. El Cerrado tiene el segundo número mayor de especies amenazadas. Las dos principales amenazas a las aves brasileñas son la pérdida, degradación, y fragmentación del hábitat y la caceria-especialmente para el comercio ilegal. Numerosas iniciativas de conservación e investigación en losúltimos 20 años han mejorado significativamente nuestra capacidad para abordar y resolver temas importantes para la conservación de aves. Brasil requiere un Plan Nacional de Conservación de Aves para definir prioridades de investigación y conservación para la siguiente década.
Identifying the ecological factors that shape parasite distributions remains a central goal in disease ecology. These factors include dispersal capability, environmental filters and geographic distance. Using 520 haemosporidian parasite genetic lineages recovered from 7,534 birds sampled across tropical and temperate South America, we tested (a) the latitudinal diversity gradient hypothesis and (b) the distance–decay relationship (decreasing proportion of shared species between communities with increasing geographic distance) for this host–parasite system. We then inferred the biogeographic processes influencing the diversity and distributions of this cosmopolitan group of parasites across South America. We found support for a latitudinal gradient in diversity for avian haemosporidian parasites, potentially mediated through higher avian host diversity towards the equator. Parasite similarity was correlated with climate similarity, geographic distance and host composition. Local diversification in Amazonian lineages followed by dispersal was the most frequent biogeographic events reconstructed for haemosporidian parasites. Combining macroecological patterns and biogeographic processes, our study reveals that haemosporidian parasites are capable of circumventing geographic barriers and dispersing across biomes, although constrained by environmental filtering. The contemporary diversity and distributions of haemosporidian parasites are mainly driven by historical (speciation) and ecological (dispersal) processes, whereas the parasite community assembly is largely governed by host composition and to a lesser extent by environmental conditions.
Studies on avian haemosporidia are on the rise, but we still lack a basic understanding of how ecological and evolutionary factors mold the distributions of haemosporidia among species in the same bird community. We studied the structure and organization of a local avian haemosporidian assemblage (genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) in the Cerrado biome of Central Brazil for 5 years. We obtained 790 blood samples from 54 bird species of which 166 (21%) were infected with haemosporidians based on molecular diagnostics. Partial sequences of the parasite cytochrome b gene revealed 18 differentiated avian haemosporidian lineages. We also analysed the relationship of life-history traits (i.e., nesting height, migration status, nest type, sociality, body mass, and embryo development period) of the 14 most abundant bird species with the prevalence of avian haemosporidia. It was found that host species that bred socially presented a higher prevalence of Haemoproteus (Parahaemoproteus) than bird species that bred in pairs. Thus, aspects of host behaviour could be responsible for differential exposure to vectors. The assemblage of avian haemosporidia studied here also confirms a pattern that is emerging in recent studies using molecular markers to identify avian haemosporidians, namely that many lineages are host generalists.
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