Bird diversity along a gradient of fragmented habitats of the Cerrado

ABSTRACT Understanding the factors that affect biodiversity is of central interest to ecology, and essential to species conservation and ecosystems management. We sampled bird communities in 17 forest fragments in the Cerrado biome, the Central-West region of Brazil. We aimed to know the communities structure pattern and the influence of geographical distance and environmental variables on them, along a gradient of fragmented habitats at both local and landscape scales. Eight structural variables of the fragments served as an environmental distance measurement at the local scale while five metrics served as an environmental distance measurement at the landscape scale. Species presence-absence data were used to calculate the dissimilarity index. Beta diversity was calculated using three indices (βsim, βnes and βsor), representing the spatial species turnover, nestedness and total beta diversity, respectively. Spatial species turnover was the predominant pattern in the structure of the communities. Variations in beta diversity were explained only by the environmental variables of the landscape with spatial configuration being more important than the composition. This fact indicates that, in Cerrado of Goiás avian communities structure, deterministic ecological processes associated to differences in species responses to landscape fragmentation are more important than stochastic processes driven by species dispersal.