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Multi-scale habitat use analysis and interspecific Ecology of the Critically Endangered Black-breasted Puffleg Eriocnemis nigrivestis


The Black-breasted Puffleg Eriocnemis nigrivestis is a hummingbird endemic to Ecuador and considered Critically Endangered, given its limited distribution, low population numbers, and ongoing habitat degradation. We investigated habitat use patterns using landscape and microhabitat variables. In addition, we explored a previously postulated competition hypothesis involving the Black-breasted Puffleg and the Gorgeted Sunangel Heliangelus strophianus. Our results suggest that landscape variables may play a role in the habitat selection process; specifically the distance to nearest forest border seems to have a significant effect on our habitat model. We speculate that, as the species is known to perform seasonal movements, the avoidance of forest border might reduce the physiological stress caused by altitudinal migration. At microhabitat level, Black-breasted Puffleg seems not sensitive to forest structure variables. Our findings suggest that ensuring forest tract connectivity, between the altitudinal extremes of the species’ range at the north-western flanks of the Pichincha volcano, might be crucial for survival of the species during its annual cycle. However, non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) indicates that Black-breasted Puffleg and the Gorgeted Sunangel do not overlap spatially, but this finding is not conclusive considering our field observations.


Eriocnemis nigrivestis es un colibrí endémico de Ecuador, considerado Críticamente Amenazado debido a su distribución restringida, reducido tamaño poblacional y pérdida continua de su hábitat. Investigamos los patrones de uso de hábitat por parte de la especie, empleando variables a nivel de paisaje y micro hábitat. Adicionalmente exploramos la hipótesis de competencia entre Eriocnemis nigrivestis y Heliangelus strophianus que ha sido previamente postulada. Nuestros resultados sugieren que las variables de paisaje como la distancia al borde de bosque más cercano tendrían un rol en el proceso de selección de hábitat. Especulamos que la especie, en términos generales, evite los bordes de bosque con el fin de reducir el ya existente estrés fisiológico que la migración altitudinal conlleva. A nivel de microhábitat, Eriocnemis nigrivestis aparentemente no responde a las variables relacionadas con la estructura del bosque. Nuestros resultados también sugieren que para incrementar las probabilidades de sobrevivencia de la especie es necesario asegurar la conectividad entre fragmentos de bosque ubicados a lo largo del rango altitudinal de la especie en los flancos nor-occidentales del volcán Pichincha. Por otro lado, a pesar de que nuestros hallazgos indican que Eriocnemis nigrivestis y Heliangelus strophianus no se solapan espacialmente, pensamos que estos resultados no son concluyentes considerando nuestras observaciones de campo.

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Bird Conservation International
  • ISSN: 0959-2709
  • EISSN: 1474-0001
  • URL: /core/journals/bird-conservation-international
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