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Range Expansion of the Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) in the Greater Caribbean Basin

Wayne J. Arendt
Colonial Waterbirds
Vol. 11, No. 2 (1988), pp. 252-262
Published by: Waterbird Society
DOI: 10.2307/1521007
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1521007
Page Count: 11
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Range Expansion of the Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) in the Greater Caribbean Basin
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Abstract

The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) was first reported in the Greater Caribbean Basin from Old Providence Island in 1933. It was not reported again from the region until 1944, when an individual was sighted in Aruba, Southern Netherlands Antilles. Within 4 years, the species was reported in Puerto Rico and Jamaica more than 800 km north of Aruba in the Greater Antilles. By 1957, Cattle Egrets were successfully nesting in nearby Cuba and St. Croix. Today, the species is known from more than 50 major islands throughout the Caribbean Basin. Cattle Egrets show strong dispersal tendencies and migratory behavior. The first Cattle Egrets to reach the Caribbean islands were probably migratory individuals. Rapid range expansion in the Caribbean and throughout the neotropics was concomitant with increased animal husbandry and intense agricultural practices, including irrigation and burning regimes. The success of the Cattle Egret in the Caribbean region is also attributed to its high reproductive rate, exponential population growth, extended breeding seasons, and few vertebrate predators, owing to the region's insularity.

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