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Title: Isolated Ficus trees and conservation in human-modified landscapes
Author: Cottee-Jones, Henry Eden W.
ISNI:       0000 0004 4803 1033
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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The destruction of tropical forests is the most concerning current threat to biodiversity. Although protected areas have long been used as the primary tool for biodiversity conservation, there is an increasing need to find suitable conservation strategies for the growing area of human-modified land. This thesis addresses three themes that have been identified as the most pressing areas for research in human-modified landscapes: biodiversity conservation beyond protected areas, forest restoration, and the human–environment relationship. By studying the interactions between birds, plants, and people with isolated Ficus (Moraceae) trees in Assam, India, this thesis reports several important findings: 1) isolated Ficus trees are extraordinarily important to frugivorous bird communities that inhabit human-modified landscapes; 2) the frugivores visiting these isolated trees still sustained the majority of ecological function found in trees close to the forest edge; 3) isolated Ficus trees are also exceptionally important feeding sites for insectivorous birds in human-modified landscapes, compared to other trees; 4) Ficus trees are better restoration nuclei than other isolated trees; 5) although the sacred status of Ficus trees in Assam has a major influence on their abundance and distribution, faith-based values are insufficient in ensuring their conservation. In conclusion, this thesis finds that isolated Ficus trees are critically important micro-sites for conservation in human-modified landscapes, the loss of which may lead to avifaunal collapse and a reduction in restoration potential. However, by stressing their ecological and cultural properties, it may be possible to build a strong case for the conservation of isolated Ficus trees in Assam and elsewhere.
Supervisor: Whittaker, Robert J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Geography ; Biology ; Environment ; Biodiversity ; Ecology (zoology) ; Birds ; Conservation beyond protected areas ; Frugivore ; Assam ; India