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Impacts of habitat disturbance, including ecotourism activities, on breeding behavior and success of the pitta-like ground roller, Atelornis pittoides, an endangered bird species in the eastern rainforest of Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar
Although ecotourism is touted as a tool to promote sustainable development and conservation of protected areas, it can have a negative impact on some species that it intends to protect. This dissertation explores the impacts of tourism on the breeding behavior and success of Atelornis pittoides , Madagascar's endemic pitta-like ground roller. Another goal is to understand the foraging and nesting requirements of this endangered bird. From 2000 to 2003, I studied the morphology, habitat use, distribution, foraging behavior, nesting-habitat selection, breeding behavior, and breeding success of Atelornis pittoides (Brachypteraciidae, Coraciiformes) at three different study localities in the Ranomafana National Park. Data were collected using line transects, point counts, mist netting, and direct observation. Characteristics of preferred and rejected habitats were measured at each of the three study localities. Habitat disturbance was evaluated by direct observation and park records. Talatakely forest had suffered the greatest disturbance; Vohiparara had suffered moderate disturbance, and Parcelle 1 had suffered little disturbance (and supported no ecotourism). The breeding success of Atelornis was found to be jeopardized by natural- and human-induced habitat disturbance. It decreased in areas of heavy tourism, in years marked by heavy tourism, and for nests built close to tourist trails. Nest predation rates increased with increasing tourism. There were differences in the calling behavior of birds at the three localities; in the most disturbed habitats, the birds called less frequently, particularly in the middle of the day (when tourists are likely to draw predators to their nesting sites). Atelornis was found to be selective in its choice of nesting sites. There were significant differences in vegetation structure and composition, as well as other habitat characteristics (e.g., soil exposure, presence of fallen trees, local topography), between preferred and rejected habitats. In general, nesting habitat selection is related to predator avoidance, access to ideal foraging habitat, and avoidance of competition with conspecifics. Long-term pair bonding and nest habitat fidelity (from year to year) was demonstrated, for the first time, in this study. A minor but statistically significant amount of sexual dimorphism was also demonstrated, and interpreted within the context of foraging and breeding adaptations.
Razafimahaimodison, Jean Claude Rolland Andrianantenaina, "Impacts of habitat disturbance, including ecotourism activities, on breeding behavior and success of the pitta-like ground roller, Atelornis pittoides, an endangered bird species in the eastern rainforest of Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3136769.