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Oecologia. 2003 Sep;137(1):104-13. Epub 2003 Jul 5.

Analysis of avian communities in Lake Guri, Venezuela, using multiple assembly rule models.

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Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


This study analyzed the distribution of resident, forest-interior bird species nesting on islands in Lake Guri, Venezuela using several different community assembly rule models. The models that were tested included Diamond's Assembly Rules, Size Structure, Guild Proportionality, Favored States, and Nestedness. It was determined that the species composition of the study communities was only weakly influenced by competition, but that competition did appear to limit the size similarity which is permissible for co-occurring species. There was no tendency for the relative proportion of species within guilds (i.e. insectivore, omnivore, nectivore and frugivore) to remain stable among the islands. When only the insectivorous and omnivorous species were analyzed (using feeding strata as the functional groups) there was some support for the guild proportionality hypothesis. This study found no support for Fox's Favored State hypothesis, possibly due to the overrepresentation of insectivores and omnivores in the species pool. The island communities exhibit a highly nested structure. This high degree of nestedness supports the hypothesis that the assemblages are more strongly determined by differential extinction vulnerability and selective species loss than by interspecific or inter-guild competition. Understanding patterns of community assembly and their underlying forces has important implications for conservation ecology and reserve design.

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