The relative role of rivers, environmental heterogeneity and species traits in driving compositional changes in southeastern Amazonian bird assemblages

Marina Franco de Almeida Maximiano*, Fernando Mendonça d'Horta, Hanna Tuomisto, Gabriela Zuquim, Jasper Van doninck, Camila Cherem Ribas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Amazonian rivers have been proposed to act as geographic barriers to species dispersal, either driving allopatric speciation or defining current distribution limits. The strength of the barrier varies according to the species’ ecological characteristics and the river's physical properties. Environmental heterogeneity may also drive compositional changes but has not been well assessed in Amazonia. Aiming to understand the contributions of riverine barriers and environmental heterogeneity in shaping compositional changes in Amazonian forest bird assemblages, we focus on the Tapajós River. We investigate how spatial variation in species composition is related to physical barriers (Tapajós and Jamanxim rivers), species’ ecological characteristics (distinct guilds), and environmental heterogeneity (canopy reflectance, soils, and elevation). We sampled birds through point-counts and mist nets on both banks of the Tapajós and Jamanxim rivers. To test for relationships between bird composition and environmental data, we used Mantel and partial Mantel tests, NMDS, and ANOVA + Tukey HSD. The Mantel tests showed that the clearest compositional changes occurred across the Tapajós River, which seems to act unequally as a significant barrier to the bird guilds. The Jamanxim River was not associated with differences in bird communities. Our results reinforce that the Tapajós River is a biogeographical boundary for birds, while environmental heterogeneity influences compositional variation within interfluves. We discuss the combined influence of geographical barriers, environmental heterogeneity, and ecological characteristics of species in shaping species distributions and community composition and the complexity of extrapolating the patterns found for birds to other Amazonian organisms. Abstract in Portuguese is available with online material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-962
Number of pages17
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • body size
  • dispersal
  • feeding habit
  • foraging stratum
  • riverine barrier
  • Tapajós River
  • taxonomy
  • ITC-CV


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