Diversity metrics, species turnovers and nestedness of bird assemblages in a deep karst sinkhole

in Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
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We reported a study on breeding birds occurring inside an 80 m-deep karst sinkhole, with the characterization of the assemblages recorded along its semi-vertical slopes from the upper edge until the bottom. The internal sides of the sinkhole have been vertically subdivided in four belts about 20 m high. The highest belt (at the upper edge of the cenote) showed the highest values in mean number of bird detections, mean and normalized species richness, and Shannon diversity index. The averaged values of number of detections and species richness significantly differ among belts. Species turnover (Cody’s β-diversity) was maximum between the highest belts. Whittaker plots showed a marked difference among assemblages shaping from broken-stick model to geometric series, and explicited a spatial progressive stress with a disruption in evenness towards the deepest belts. Bird assemblages evidenced a nested subset structure with deeper belts containing successive subsets of the species occurring in the upper belts. We hypothesize that, at least during the daytime in breeding season, the observed non-random distribution of species along the vertical stratification is likely due to (i) the progressive simplification both of the floristic composition and vegetation structure, and (ii) the paucity of sunlight as resources from the upper edge to the inner side of the cenote.

Diversity metrics, species turnovers and nestedness of bird assemblages in a deep karst sinkhole

in Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution



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    Plant composition in the 20 m-deep semi-vertical belts along the cenote (From A to D; on the right). On the left two sections (North–South and West–East) have been reported (Original pictures: M. Giardini).

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    Relative frequencies for different dbh size classes on the belt A (the upper edge of cenote; in black) and in the belts B, C and D summed (the inner belt of cenote; in white).

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    Mean point detection (and standard deviation) in the four 20 m-deep semi-vertical belts (from A to D; see Methods).

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    Mean number of species (Smean; and standard deviation) in the four 20 m-deep semi-vertical belts (from A to D; see Methods).

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    Rank/abundance plots (Whittaker plots) for the assemblages in the four 20-m depth semi-vertical belts of Pozzo del Merro sinkhole. Assemblage A: black circles and bold line; B: white circles and line; C: white triangles and dashed line; D: black triangles and dotted line. Y-axis is log-transformed (Magurran 2004).

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