Avifaunal diversity of five high-altitude cloud forests on the Andean western slope of Ecuador: testing a rapid assessment method

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A standardized rapid assessment method was used to evaluate the variation in avifaunal diversity between five equal-sized high-altitude cloud forests on the Pacific slope of the Ecuadorian Andes. Within the limited latitudinal range (370 km) across the equator, there was little difference in avifaunal richness and α-diversity between these sites, but moderately high differences in species compositions (β-diversity). In this study, the latitudinal gradient comprised two biogeographically distinct areas on each side of a postulated Cañar high-altitude corridor between the eastern and western slopes of the Andes. If our results are applicable to other places with the same environmental conditions, species compositions and names of species referred to threatened categories (e.g. endemics, restricted-range, CITES) are the necessary data in standardized surveys for pointing out priority conservation areas. The efficiency of our standardized method was tested by comparing our results from Río Mazan with two previous detailed surveys from this site. In only 4 days, our method accounted for 85% of a forest avifauna previously assessed using an effort of thirty person-months.
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