The role of indicator species: Neotropical migratory song birdsAuthor(s): Theodore R. Simons; Kerry N. Rabenold; David A. Buehler; Jaime A. Collazo; Kathleen E. Franzreb
Source: Ecosystem management for sustainability: principles and practices illustrated by a regional biosphere reserve cooperative. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Lewis Publishers: 187-208.(Editor’s note: Kay Franzreb, SRS scientist, co-authored this chapter.)
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionSouthern Appalachian forests support some of the richest avian diversity in North America, including some 75 species of Neotropical migrants, birds that perform the remarkable feat of making much of the Western Hemisphere their home. This diverse group includes the swallows, kingbirds, and other flycatchers that feed in the air on flying insects. The Eastern kingbird is a typical species. It breeds in forested areas, primarily the Eastern U.S. and winters in Central America and Northern South America. Species such as tanagers glean insects from forest foilage and also feeds extensively on fruit. Other groups include the vireos, orioles, thrushes, and even the tiny hummingbirds.
But the largest and most striking members of this group of birds are the wood warblers, some 50 closely related species of what can best be referred to as "quintessential" songbirds. These brightly colored songsters occupy an astonishing diversity of habitats. The Blackburnian warbler inhabits the spruce-fir forests as far north as boreal Canada. Black and white warblers glean insects from branches of the tallest trees in mature deciduous forests but nest on the ground. Worm-eating warblers are specialists at prying insects out of the protective covering of curled up leaves, while Chestnut-sided warblers are shrub nesting specialists of disturbed sites and forest edges.
Neotropical migrants predominate in the breeding bird community of eastern deciduous forests. In some parts of the Southern Appalachians, up to 80 percent of the breeding bird community is comprised of these species. These approximately 75 species use ground, shrub, and especially canopy nests, and about 80 percent of them are insectivores. Recent concern over the status of these birds has been prompted by surveys showing widespread population declines.
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CitationSimons, Theodore R.; Rabenold, Kerry N.; Buehler, David A.; Collazo, Jaime A.; Franzreb, Kathleen E. 1999. The role of indicator species: Neotropical migratory song birds. Ecosystem management for sustainability: principles and practices illustrated by a regional biosphere reserve cooperative. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Lewis Publishers: 187-208.(Editor’s note: Kay Franzreb, SRS scientist, co-authored this chapter.)
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