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Greener pastures: How valuable are restored cattle pastures in Guatemala for tropical resident birds? A Zoom-meeting with Anna Lello-Smith

November 9, 2020

7:15 pm - 9:00 pm

Forest restoration has become an essential part of global biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation strategies, particularly in the tropics. For example, the World Resource Institute’s 20×20 Initiative has been supporting country-led efforts across Latin America to bring 20 million hectares of land into restoration by 2020. International enthusiasm for restoration is driven in part by research that suggests that secondary forests can complement remaining mature forest as valuable habitat for many species. However, we still have a long way to go toward understanding which species are likely to benefit from restoration programs, and how exactly species are able to use regenerating agricultural landscapes. Which bird species use restored agricultural lands and which avoid them? How much time does it take for regenerating agricultural lands to be able to support forest-dependent species or species of conservation concern? And, increasingly importantly these days, how do tropical forest fires impact the habitat value of regenerating forests for birds? My talk will explore these questions across a landscape of naturally regenerating cattle pastures in the Maya Biosphere Reserve of Guatemala. Get ready for lots of pictures of beautiful tropical birds!

Anna Lello-Smith is a PhD Candidate with Dr. Amanda Rodewald in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and at the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University. Although one of her favorite activities nowadays is hiking around the Guatemalan rainforest identifying birds by sound, she didn’t start studying or watching birds until college, when she landed her first avian field tech job with Saltmarsh Sparrows in coastal Maine. From there she was hooked and spent the next four years traveling around the U.S. and the world doing seasonal fieldwork. From the cool mountains of western Virginia to the Manu Road in Peru, she had the privilege of working on projects that inspired her to care deeply about land use change and its effect on bird communities. At Cornell she studies how regenerating cattle pastures in Guatemala can support forest birds, and how fire and rainfall seasonality affect the value of these habitats for birds.

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