Tropical forests harbor around two-thirds of the world’s biodiversity. The Neotropics—comprising Central America, the Caribbean and South America—are home to a third of the world’s known bird species, the highest among all biogeographical realms. Some families of birds such as toucans, manakins and antbirds are only found in the Neotropics. With its rich bird diversity, ornithologists and bird enthusiasts often flock to the region for birdwatching.
Deforestation and other human disturbances are known to have adverse impacts on bird populations. Large, intact forests are considered to be rich in biodiversity. However, a new study has found widespread and drastic declines in Neotropical understory bird populations in a large, protected forest reserve in central Panama over a period of 44 years. Published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study revealed a decline in 70% of the bird species studied, spanning a diverse range of birds.