Kennedy, C., E. Grant, M. Neel, W. Fagan, and P. Marra. 2011. Landscape matrix mediates occupancy dynamics of Neotropical avian insectivores. Ecological Applications 21(5): 1837-1850.

In addition to patch-level attributes (i.e., area and isolation), the nature of land cover between habitat patches (the matrix) may drive colonization and extinction dynamics in fragmented landscapes. Despite a long-standing recognition of matrix effects in fragmented systems, an understanding of the relative impacts of different types of land cover on patterns and dynamics of species occurrence remains limited. We employed multi-season occupancy models to determine the relative influence of patch area, patch isolation, within-patch vegetation structure, and landscape matrix on occupancy dynamics of nine Neotropical insectivorous birds in 99 forest patches embedded in four matrix types (agriculture, suburban development, bauxite mining, and forest) in central Jamaica. We found that within-patch vegetation structure and the matrix type between patches were more important than patch area and patch isolation in determining local colonization and local extinction probabilities, and that the effects of patch area, isolation, and vegetation structure on occupancy dynamics tended to be matrix and species dependent. Across the avian community, the landscape matrix influenced local extinction more than local colonization, indicating that extinction processes, rather than movement, likely drive interspecific differences in occupancy dynamics. These findings lend crucial empirical support to the hypothesis that species occupancy dynamics in fragmented systems may depend greatly upon the landscape context.