Avian Communities in the Amazonian Cangas Vegetation: Biogeographic Affinities, Components of Beta-Diversity and Conservation

ABSTRACT The Amazonian cangas is a vegetation type distributed as patches of open vegetation embedded in a matrix of tropical forest and that grows over iron-rich soils in the Serra dos Carajás region. To characterize cangas avifauna, we surveyed birds in eight patches varying from 43 to 1,366 hectares. Cangas avifauna has compositional affinities with savannas widespread throughout the Amazon and other biomes, and we estimate that more than 200 bird species occurs in this habitat. Species composition was relatively homogeneous, and the similarity among cangas patches was the dominant component of the beta-diversity. Bird communities in cangas patches exhibited statistically significant nested structure in respect to species richness and patch size. In contrast, the nested site arrangement was not affected by the isolation of patches. Number of species and composition are moderately affected by the area of cangas patches but not by its degree of isolation. To conserve this unique habitat are necessary a strict protection of carefully chosen patches of cangas and an investigation of the conservation value of secondary vegetation recovered by the mining companies.