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Ecological Organization of a Tropical, Highland Hummingbird Community

Larry L. Wolf, F. Gary Stiles and F. Reed Hainsworth
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 45, No. 2 (Jun., 1976), pp. 349-379
DOI: 10.2307/3879
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3879
Page Count: 31
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Ecological Organization of a Tropical, Highland Hummingbird Community
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Abstract

(1) We studied the ecological organization of a four-species hummingbird community in the highlands of Costa Rica, Central America. (2) Three of the four bird species (Colibri, Eugenes, Selasphorus) have marked seasonal cycles of abundance while one species (Panterpe) is a year-long resident. Panterpe breeds during the rainy season when an important food plant blooms before the arrival of most of the migratory bird populations. These arrive and breed in relation to blooming of other plant species. (3) The greatest diversity and density of hummingbirds occurs during the dry season which is also the time of peak bloom of the flowers visited by the hummingbirds. (4) Two of the four species (Colibri, Eugenes) tend to visit few plant species while two (Panterpe, Selasphorus) visit more plant species during a year. (5) When the bird species co-occur the principal division of the nectar resource involves: (a) a bill-corolla size interaction; (b) efficiency differences in exploiting the nectar; (c) dominance interactions among the bird species; and (d) the availability of alternative resources. (6) The efficiency of foraging is influenced by co-evolutionary selective forces. (7) The availability of several pollinator species has apparently led to co-evolutionary relationships that further tend to restrict the resource range used by a bird species. (8) Panterpe, the dominant species, is viewed as the organizer member of the guild. Its population size in relation to nectar availability effectively determines the ability of individuals of other species to maintain a position in the guild.

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