A 30-year old hydroelectric project in Thailand has caused rainforest bird communities to collapse
Date:December 7, 2018
Source:Wildlife Conservation Society
A study by an international team of conservation scientists found that a dam built in Thailand 31 years ago has caused the local bird population to collapse.
Reporting in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation, the authors found that 24 square miles (61 square kilometers) of dry forest now surrounds the reservoir. The 63 square-mile (165 square kilometer) Chiew Larn Reservoir inundated southern Thailand's largest remaining tract of moist lowland rainforest -- a unique habitat that was rich in biodiversity. The area surrounding the reservoir is now permanently degraded due to deforestation and human-caused fire, and the bird community is thus dominated by a handful of disturbance-tolerant species. Meanwhile, forest-dependent birds have largely vanished, as the once-contiguous rainforest has been replaced by isolated habitat patches overgrown with bamboo and vines.
More than half the birds recorded by the research team, led by Greg Irving and co-supervised by WCS's Antony Lynam and ornithologist Philip Round, now consist of just a handful of wide-ranging and disturbance-tolerant species. These birds include the pin-striped tit babbler (Mixornis gularis) and dark-necked tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis), along with bamboo-loving species such as the bamboo bush-warbler (Abroscopus superciliaris), Indochinese blue-flycatcher (Cyornis sumatrensis), bamboo woodpecker (Gecinulus viridis) and white-browed piculet (Sasia ochracea).