Arroyos as Winter Habitat

January 1, 1995 by Gregory Gough

The clearing of forests in the tropics has a been a cause of some concern for scientists worried about the loss of habitat for both resident and migratory birds. A study in Mexico near the Guatemalan border revealed that arroyos can provide a refuge for birds.

small yellow bird

Arroyos, or wooded patches along streams and rivers, are typically left behind as the surrounding land is cleared for agriculture. Some arroyos consist of remnant forest, others of scrub, and others of woods with or without an understory. All appealed to birds, with the understory-free forest, cleared for cattle, being the least appealing.

Study sites consisted of arroyos that were 10 years old and those that were 35 years old. There was no difference in the bird community between the two ages so even fairly recently cleared agricultural areas can provide habitat for birds if the arroyos are left intact.

This article summarizes the information in this scientific paper:

Warkentin, I., Greenberg, R.S. and Salgado Ortiz, J. 1995. Songbird use of gallery woodland in recently cleared and older settled landscapes of the Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, Mexico. Conservation Biology, 5: 1095-1106.

Download scientific paper