Successional stage effect on the availability of tree cavities for cavity-nesting birds in an Atlantic Forest park from the state of São Paulo, Brazil

<div><p>Abstract The availability of suitable cavities and substrate for hole construction can limit the populations of birds that rely on tree hollows to reproduce. Several studies have focused on the effects of types of habitats, and types of human disturbances on cavities abundance, but the effect of successional stages in the Atlantic Forest has been poorly addressed. In this study we aimed to compare the availability and biometric characteristics of tree cavities between primary and mid-successional stage sites in an Atlantic Forest area from southeastern Brazil. Based on nest characteristics described in the literature, we inferred if hollows present in secondary sites could harbor the large secondary-nester Atlantic Forest birds, with special attention to toucans and hawks. From September 2016 to April 2017, 96 cavities were sampled, 67 in the primary, and 29 in the secondary plots. Our data revealed that the communities of cavity-nester birds in mid-successional stage areas may be more affected by the reduced cavity availability than by cavities quality, as the number of cavities in these sites was less than half than that found in mature forests. We also provide evidences that the largest cavity nesters, such as the biggest hawks, might have limited nesting possibilities in mid-successional stage areas especially due to small cavity entrances, which may have important reflects in conservation strategies.</p></div>