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Master of Science (M.S.)
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Amongst the diversity of taxa that occur in the Neotropics, 200 migratory bird species that breed in temperate North America can be found. Many of these populations have seen significant declines since the 1960s. The Wood Thrush, Hylocichla mustelina, is one such species. Shade coffee and other agroforestry practices show potential for benefiting migratory species, but the quality of coffee habitat and optimal habitat characteristics for Wood Thrushes remain unknown.
I surveyed a spatially complex, agricultural landscape in Honduras outside the recognized winter range of the Wood Thrush and radio-tagged 46 individuals within rustic coffee farms during the winters of 2012 and 2013. I used telemetry data to calculate metrics of habitat quality based on survival and persistence while also collecting detailed vegetation measurements across the landscape and within each home-range. Mixed-effects models were used to explore the relationship of survival, transience, movement, and home-range size to habitat class and microhabitat variables.
Estimates for all four habitat quality metrics fell within the range of previous studies and were significantly related to habitat attributes. Structure, edge habitat, and shade coffee played a key role determining habitat quality.
The variables associated with higher habitat quality in this study suggest that rustic coffee farms have potential to support wintering wood thrush populations. However, estimates of survival may be overly optimistic in the presence of transients, transforming highly fragmented landscapes into winter sinks. This study highlights several gaps in current scientific knowledge about some of the most essential questions of Wood Thrush winter ecology.
David I King
Bailey, Brett A., "Factors Affecting Habitat Quality for Wintering Wood Thrushes in a Coffee Growing Region in Honduras" (2016). Masters Theses. 406.