Raptor functional diversity in scrubland-agricultural landscapes of northern-central-Mexican dryland environments
Chapa Vargas, Leonardo
Barragán Torres, Felipe
"Raptor birds have widespread distributions in different environments throughout the planet. Yet, they are highly sensitive to landscape disturbances. We studied raptors in northern-central Mexico at the Highland plateau of San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas, in three landscape types that differed in proportion of agriculture. Our main goal was to determine whether small proportion of agriculture at the landscape level influences species richness, ecological diversity, and functional diversity. We conducted raptor road surveys during 1 year, from April 2015 to February 2016. We registered a total of 332 birds belonging to 14 diurnal raptor species. The most abundant species were Cathartes aura (turkey vulture), Falco sparverius (American kestrel), Caracara cheriway (crested caracara), and Buteo jamaicensis (red-tailed hawk). Three species: Aquila chrysaetos (golden eagle), Pandion haliaetus (osprey), and Falco columbarius (merlin) were exclusively recorded in the less-degraded, scrubland landscapes. However, no significant differences on average diversity were found between landscape types. Contrastingly, scrubland landscapes had the highest average functional diversity, followed by mixed landscapes, and then by agricultural landscapes, with significant differences in functional diversity between scrubland and agricultural landscapes. Overall, observed species richness in the study area formed four functional groups. These groups change and loose species as proportion of agriculture in the landscape progressively increases. The results suggested that the contribution of species richness to functional diversity, both for scrubland landscapes, which have the greatest functional diversity, and agricultural landscapes, which hold the smallest functional diversity, is important because there is substantial functional redundancy among landscape types."