Diversity, endemism, species turnover and relationships among avifauna of Neotropical seansonly dry forests
Published: Volume 66.2, July 2019. Pages 257-277.
Neotropical seasonally dry forests (NSDF) are widely distributed across Latin America and the Caribbean. They possess important levels of species richness and endemism but few studies have assessed the diversity patterns and ecological relationships between the entire avifauna of these threatened forests. Thus, in order to analyse the macro-ecological patterns and the community structure of NSDF avifaunas, we generated species distribution models describing the current geographical distribution of 1,298 bird species inhabiting NSDF. We assessed species richness gradients in terms of distance from the Equator using both linear and polynomial regressions. Then, based on a matrix composed of the presence or absence of species in 563 quadrants, we performed cluster analyses (considering the Simpson dissimilarity index [βSIM] as a distance measure) to identify the main NSDF regions and describe the avifaunal affinities among them. For the identified groups, we estimated the dissimilarity values, using both an ANOSIM test and the βSIM index. Overall, we observed the lack of an equatorial peak for species diversity of NSDF avifauna in the latitudinal gradient and identified 12 avifaunistic groups. The βSIM index among the NSDF avifaunal groups ranged from 0.05-0.73, showing statistically significant differences (R = 0.894, p = 0.001) in species composition among them. Species shared between two or three NSDF groups comprised a higher proportion (~38%) than those exclusive to each group (~23%). Only 35 species were shared between the 12 groups. This information supports a separation of the NSDF avifauna into two major groups (northern and southern), as well as the idea of connections during recent geological time among the NSDF in southeastern South America (the so-called Pleistocene Arc Hypothesis). We provide a scientific framework to contextualise the importance of each NSDF nuclei in terms of their avifauna, supplying an ecological basis for future conservation decisions in order to protect their diversity.