Context: Habitat loss is a global problem and in Fiji >50% of the land area once covered by forests has been converted to grasslands and agricultural land. About 99% of Fiji's endemic biodiversity and 80% of the land bird species have been identified as forest species.
Aims: In this study, we compare forest and grassland sites and test for consistency in avian diversity, abundance, foraging guild, and distribution status (endemic, native, introduced to Fiji) over a 5-year period (2016-2020).
Methods: We surveyed bird communities using the point count method with a 100 m radius and 7-min observation period per site.
Key results: A one-way analysis of similarities (ANOSIM) analysis showed significant differences in species composition and bird abundance between the forested habitats and grassland habitats. A general linear model test showed significant differences in foraging guild composition and distribution status between forested and grassland habitats. There were no significant differences between the three forested sites (primary montane forest, secondary old-growth forest, old-growth mahogany plantations with regenerating native species), while grassland sites had stronger annual change in species composition.
Implications: Forest cover, irrespective of whether these forests are of primary or secondary nature, therefore plays an important role in maintaining the native and endemic land bird species and other biodiversity in oceanic island ecosystems such as Viti Levu Island, Fiji.
- avian biodiversity
- community assemblage
- foraging guild
- introduced species
- Pacific Islands
- primary forest
- secondary forest
- species richness
- vegetation structure