Spatial and temporal changes in the structure and diversity of the avifauna of Carara National Park, Costa Rica, in response to road proximity


  • Gerardo Avalos University of Costa Rica
  • Edgardo Arévalo The School for Field Studies
  • César Sánchez


beta diversity, fragmentation species turnover rate


Abstract. Documenting changes in species distribution is critical to understanding bird diversity, establishing a baseline for comparative studies, quantifying bird turnover rates, and identifying sensitive groups to anthropogenic disturbances. We examine changes in diversity of the avifauna of Carara National Park (Costa Rica), a transitional forest bordered by a busily trafficked road, between the wet and dry seasons of 2007. We established count points in two sectors of the Park (Carara trails, 12 points, and the Meandric Lagoon, 8 points), and did censuses twice a day for five consecutive days in July and August (wet season), and in November (dry season). We measured species similarity among trails and seasons using the Sorensen and Morisita indices, and used principal components to consolidate species numbers, the number of observations, and the Shannon diversity index. The first component (96 % of the variation) served to measure road influence on bird abundance and diversity. We applied these analyses to specialized understory insectivores (Formicariidae, Furnariidae, Troglodytidae and Thamnophylidae), expecting a negative effect of the road on diversity and abundance closer to the road. We observed 178 species (1 690 observations) combining wet and dry season. Species numbers varied little between sites and seasons (estimated number of species = 100). Species similarity between sites was higher during the wet season (Sorensen index = 71.9 %). The trails clustered according to season rather than location. The avifauna was dominated by resident species during wet and dry seasons (94 % and 85 % of observations, respectively). The road affected bird distribution within the first 100 m, showing a significant effect on specialized insectivores. Roads bordering conservation areas will increase in number and traffic in the next decades. It is critical to understand their effects on wildlife to improve management practices and reduce impacts on sensitive species. 


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