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Population status, habitat dependence, and reproductive ecology of Bahama Orioles: a critically endangered synanthropic species

Melissa R. Price, Valerie A. Lee and William K. Hayes
Journal of Field Ornithology
Vol. 82, No. 4 (DECEMBER 2011), pp. 366-378
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Association of Field Ornithologists
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41409788
Page Count: 13
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Population status, habitat dependence, and reproductive ecology of Bahama Orioles: a critically endangered synanthropic species
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Abstract

Recent elevation of critically endangered Bahama Orioles {Icterus northropi) to species status prompted us to evaluate their population status, habitat use, and breeding ecology. From surveys, we estimated that at least 141 to 254 individuals remain globally, with 90 to 162, 24 to 44, and 27 to 48 individuals remaining on North Andros Island, Mangrove Cay, and South Andros Island, The Bahamas, respectively. Orioles were observed nesting exclusively in anthropogenic habitat (residential and agricultural land), but home ranges also included nearby pine forest and coppice (dry broadleaf forest). Most nests (40 of 46, or 87%) were in nonnative coconut palm {Cocos nucífera), with native Sabalpalmetto and Thrinax morrisii, and an introduced Brassaia actinophylla also used. Trees selected by orioles for nesting were significantly taller, less likely to have shrubs underneath, further from cover, and had more palm trees nearby than randomly selected palm trees. Three of eight nests with known contents were parasitized by Shiny Cowbirds {Molothrus bonariensis) . Lethal yellowing disease recently devastated coconut palms and reduced the number of orioles on North Andros, but palms on Mangrove Cay and South Andros remain healthy. The juxtaposition of anthropogenic habitat to suitable native habitats may be more important than any single factor for Bahama Orioles, especially for breeding adults and fledged young. Conservation of coppice habitat, at high risk for agricultural and residential development, is crucial for survival of this critically endangered synanthropic species. El reciente reconocimiento como especies de Lcterus northropi, el cual se encuentra en estado crítico de amenaza, nos llevó a evaluar, rápidamente, su estatus poblacional, uso de hábitat y ecología reproductiva. Utilizando censos, determinamos que quedaban de 141 a 254 individuos, con 90 a 162 en Andros del Norte, 24 a 44 en Cayo Manglar, y de 27 a 48 en Andros del Sur, Las Bahamas, respectivamente. Las aves fueron observadas anidando exclusivamente en habitats antropogénicos (tierras agrícolas y áreas residenciales), pero el ámbito hogareño incluye bosques de pino (adyacentes) y bosque seco de hoja ancha. La mayoría de los nidos (40 de 46 o el 87%) fueron encontrados en Palmas de Coco {Cocos nucífera), el cual no es nativo, utilizándose además especies nativas como Sabal palmetto y Thrinax morrisii y exóticos como Brassaia actinophylL · . Los árboles seleccionados para anidar, fueron significativamente más altos, menos propensos a tener arbustos bajo estos, más lejos de cobertura y tenían más palmas en sus alrededores que árboles seleccionados al azar para anidar. Tres de ocho nidos, con contenido conocido fueron parasitados por el Tordo {Molothrus bonariensis). La enfermedad letal para las palmas de coco (yellowing disease), desbasto, recientemente, al coco y redujo el número de orioles en Andros del Norte, aunque las palmas se mantuvieron saludables en Cayo Manglar y Andros del Sur. La yuxtaposición de habitat antropogénico y habitat nativo adecuado, pudiera ser de mayor importancia que cualquier otro factor individual para el oriol de las Bahamas, especialmente para adultos reproductivos y volantones jóvenes. La conservación de bosque seco de hoja ancha, que está en alto riesgo para el uso agrícola y el desarrollo urbano, es crucial para la sobrevivencia de esta especie sinantrópica críticamente amenazada.

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