Hierarchical Distance Sampling Reveals Increased Population Size and Broader Habitat Use in the Endangered Bahama Oriole
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Type of Work31 pages
journal articles postprints
Citation of Original PublicationRowley, Michael G.; Stanley, Richard C.; Antalffy, Janine M.; Christhilf, Jennifer L.; Stonko, Daniel C.; Johnson, Scott B.; Cant-Woodside, Shelley; Sillett, T. Scott; Fagan, Matt E.; Studds, Colin E.; Omland, Kevin E.; Hierarchical Distance Sampling Reveals Increased Population Size and Broader Habitat Use in the Endangered Bahama Oriole; Avian Conservation and Ecology (2020);
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Caribbean is home to over 20 passerine species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. The Bahama Oriole (Icterus northropi) is listed as critically endangered and is now restricted to Andros, a single island complex in The Bahamas. We investigated this species’ habitat use and produced the first statistically robust estimate of population size. We conducted point counts during the Bahama Oriole’s breeding season in May and June 2017, extensively surveying the northern part of North Andros over a study area covering 713 km². Hierarchical distance sampling models estimated 1269-2765 individuals within our study area, a substantially larger population on North Andros than was indicated by the previously published estimates. Earlier studies, which disproportionately sampled anthropogenic and coppice habitats, likely underestimated this species’ abundance in pine forest. We found that the Bahama Oriole is widespread, most abundant in pine forest, and not dependent on developed habitats during the breeding season. These findings provide a better outlook for the species’ persistence and indicate that conserving pine forest would benefit this critically endangered species. Our results also emphasize the importance of rigorously evaluating habitat use when developing conservation plans for endangered species. Systematic population counts and statistical analyses that account for detection probability are needed for endangered and vulnerable endemic birds across the Caribbean, especially in the face of increased hurricane strength and sea level rise due to climate change.
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