Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2011 S. Jacob Socolar. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Rachel Merz

Second Advisor

José-Luis Machado


A post-flowering die-off of bamboo in an established bird census plot afforded an opportunity to investigate the response of bamboo-dwelling birds to a natural transformation of their habitat. A census in 1984-1985 produced spot maps of the bird community of an 80 ha forest plot in terra firme habitat near Cocha Cashu Biological Station, Manu National Park, Peru. Two mapped bamboo patches in the plot totaled approximately 30 ha. In 2001-2002, the bamboo flowered and died. By 2009, trees had grown up in the erstwhile bamboo patches, creating second-growth stands surrounded by mature forest. A second census in 2009 produced spot maps for 50 hectares of bamboo die-off and adjacent forest. Twelve bamboo specialist species were no longer present but almost no new species had invaded. The maintenance of high bird diversity in western Amazonian forests does not appear to depend on the spatial heterogeneity caused by recent bamboo die-offs. This result contrasts with (but does not contradict) previous research demonstrating the importance of some disturbance regimes (e.g. treefall gaps) to avian biodiversity in neotropical forests. A few bamboo specialist species, including Automolus melanopezus, Myrmeciza goeldii, Hemitriccus flammulatus, and Ramphotrigon fuscicauda, persisted in the die-offs. Their choices of microsites suggested that vegetation structure is an important determinant of habitat suitability for these specialists.