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Impact of Hurricane Hugo on Bird Populations on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Robert A. Askins and David N. Ewert
Biotropica
Vol. 23, No. 4, Part A. Special Issue: Ecosystem, Plant, and Animal Responses to Hurricanes in the Caribbean (Dec., 1991), pp. 481-487
DOI: 10.2307/2388270
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2388270
Page Count: 7
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Impact of Hurricane Hugo on Bird Populations on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
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Abstract

Bird populations were surveyed in Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands in 1987 (two years before Hurricane Hugo hit the Virgin Islands) and in 1990 (four months after the hurricane). Abundance was estimated using the fixed-radius point count method. The average number of individual permanent residents per survey point was significantly lower after the hurricane in both moist forest and dry evergreen woodland. Most of the resident species that showed substantial population declines feed primarily on fruit or nectar, a pattern which is consistent with the results of several other recent studies of the effect of hurricanes on forest bird communities. Also, an insectivorous winter resident (Parula americana) had significantly lower densities after the hurricane. Although many areas within the park were defoliated after the hurricane, most trees remained standing and they began to produce new leaves within a few weeks. Our results suggest that even relatively mild storm damage can result in a marked reduction in the numbers of some species of birds due either to mortality or dispersal from the affected area.

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