Harvesting of forest products and implications for Afrotemperate bird communities in a montane forest of the Eastern Cape, South Africa
CITATION: Leaver, J., Carstens, J. C. & Cherry, M. I. 2019. Harvesting of forest products and implications for Afrotemperate bird communities in a montane forest of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Forest Ecosystems, 6:48, doi:10.1186/s40663-019-0207-x.
The original publication is available at https://link.springer.com/article
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Harvesting of forest products is a widespread driver of disturbance in developing nations, where policies are increasingly aimed at managing natural forests for sustainable use. There is thus need for research aimed at understanding the impact of resource use on forest habitats and concomitant effects on biodiversity. Afromontane forests in the Eastern Cape, South Africa are harvested informally for poles and medicinal bark and occur along elevational gradients of 800–1600 m above sea level. Patterns of spatial diversity and human disturbance are expected to be affected by elevation. Furthermore, species’ responses to disturbance are expected to vary depending on their level of habitat specialisation. Understanding harvest impacts on forest biodiversity thus requires disentangling the separate effects of elevation and disturbance, and considering forest-specialist and forest-generalist species separately. This study comprises two components. First, harvest activities, resultant harvest-mediated habitat heterogeneity, and avifaunal species richness, composition and beta-diversity were compared across two elevational zones in a harvested forest. Second, the role of harvest-mediated habitat heterogeneity in driving patterns of avifaunal diversity were assessed, while controlling for elevation, and considering forest-specialist and forest-generalist species separately.