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Habitat selection and habitat quality for wintering wood thrushes in a coffee growing region in Honduras

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Bailey, Brett A.; King, David I

Year Published



Global Ecology and Conservation


Most Neotropical migrant birds spend the majority of the annual cycle in the tropics, and the continued population declines of some species is attributed at least in part to habitat degradation and destruction on the tropical wintering grounds. Many Neotropical migrants have been observed to use a range of disturbed, agricultural, and primary forest habitats on the wintering grounds, and this habitat-use information helps us better understand the potential effects of land use in the tropics on their populations as well as to develop programs and strategies to conserve these species. Although indices and estimates of habitat-specific abundance can be informative, some wintering migrants are reported to occur in similar or even greater numbers in marginal habitats due to despotic interactions with conspecifics. Thus, investigations of habitat-specific survival and other metrics potentially related to survival are a valuable supplement, and provide a more refined indicator of habitat quality. The wood thrush is a Neotropical migrant bird that has been undergoing range-wide population declines for the past half century or more, and although their numbers appear to be greater in disturbed habitats on the wintering grounds, they are reported to experience higher survival in primary forest. We captured and tracked wintering wood thrushes with radio-telemetry in a coffee growing region in Honduras, Central America, to evaluate habitat selection in this species, as well as to determine the habitat types and microhabitat characteristics associated with survival, movement metrics, and body condition. We found that wood thrushes preferred heavilyshaded coffee over forest and open agricultural habitats, although the probability of survival and of exhibiting stationary behavior was lower in heavily-shaded coffee compared to forest, especially at higher elevations. Our findings illustrate the hazards in assuming the presence of a species in a given habitat actually reflects habitat quality, as well as the importance of conserving forest within coffee producing landscapes.


Avian; Coffee; Conservation; Habitat; Land-sparing; Neotropic; Survival


Bailey, Brett A.; King, David I. 2019. Habitat selection and habitat quality for wintering wood thrushes in a coffee growing region in Honduras. Global Ecology and Conservation. 20: e00728. 10 p.

Last updated on: March 17, 2020