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Distribution patterns and insular biogeography of South Asian raptor communities

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Ten diurnal raptor communities (Falconiformes) were studied in continental and peninsular situations, and on landbridge and oceanic islands of various sizes, from Southern India to Southern Vietnam and from Sri Lanka to Java. An index of abundance was derived from 1-km2 sample plots. A consistent decrease of species richness occurred from continent to peninsulas and to large landbridge islands, then more abruptly to oceanic islands. The impoverishment process was much faster for open habitat raptors than for forest species, and for rarest and most specialized raptors than for common and more generalist species. Large taxa survived on islands as well as smaller species. Specific habitat requirements, historical factors and forest fragmentation were probably more important determinants of community composition than land area itself. An insular syndrome was documented in forest species on islands, including significant examples of habitat niche expansion, interspecific segregation and density compensation. Some cases suggested that interspecific competition was involved. Such relaxation of habitat and density constraints may enhance the survival probability of these species on islands.
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Keywords: Insular biogeography; insular syndrome; Falconiformes; tropical forests; South Asia

Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: 1998-01-01

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