Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Spatial behaviour and density of three species of long-distance migrants wintering in a disturbed and non-disturbed woodland in northern Ghana

  • MIKKEL WILLEMOES (a1), ANDERS P. TØTTRUP (a1), MATHILDE LERCHE-JØRGENSEN (a1), ERIK MANDRUP JACOBSEN (a2), ANDREW HART REEVE (a1) and KASPER THORUP (a1)...
Summary

Changes in land-use and climate are threatening migratory animals worldwide. In birds, declines have been widely documented in long-distance migrants. However, reasons remain poorly understood due to a lack of basic information regarding migratory birds’ ecology in their non-breeding areas and the effects of current environmental pressures there. We studied bird densities, spatial and territorial behaviour and habitat preference in two different habitat types in northern Ghana, West Africa. We study three common Eurasian-African songbirds (Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus, Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta and Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca) in a forested site, heavily disturbed by agricultural activities, and a forest reserve with no agriculture. The three species differed in non-breeding spatial strategies, with Willow Warblers having larger home ranges and being non-territorial. Home ranges (kernel density) of the three species were on average 1.5–4 times larger in the disturbed site than in the undisturbed site. Much of the birds’ tree species selection was explained by their preference for tall trees, but all species favoured trees of the genus Acacia. The overall larger home ranges in the disturbed site were presumably caused by the lower density of tall trees. Density of Pied Flycatchers was 24% lower in disturbed habitat (not significantly different from undisturbed) but Willow Warbler density in the disturbed habitat was more than 2.5 times the density in undisturbed. This suggests that the disturbed habitat was less suitable for Pied Flycatcher but not for Willow Warbler. This difference is possibly related to differences in tree species preferences and suggests that at least for some species, presence of preferred tree species is more important than overall tree abundance. Such information is crucial for predicting consequences of habitat changes on larger scales and population levels, as well as for planning potentially migrant-friendly farming practices.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence; e-mail: mwkristensen@snm.ku.dk
References
Hide All
Adams, W. M., Small, R. D. S. and Vickery, J. (2014) The impact of land use change on migrant birds in the Sahel. Biodiversity 15: 101108.
Barton, K. (2014) MuMIn: Multi-model inference. R package version 1.10.5. http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=MuMIn
Bates, D., Maechler, M., Bolker, B. M. and Walker, S. (2014) lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4. ArXiv e-print; http://arxiv.org/abs/1406.5823
Berthold, P., Fiedler, W., Schlenker, R. and Querner, U. (1998) 25-year study of the population development of central european songbirds: A general decline, most evident in long-distance migrants. Naturwissenschaften 85: 350353.
Bibby, C. J., Burgess, N. D., Hill, D. A. and Mustoe, S. H. (2000) Bird census techniques. 2nd edition. London, UK: Academic Press.
Bock, C. E. and Jones, Z. F. (2004) Avian habitat evaluation: Should counting birds count? Front. Ecol. Environ. 2: 403410.
Both, C., Bouwhuis, S., Lessells, C. M. and Visser, M. E. (2006) Climate change and population declines in a long-distance migratory bird. Nature 441: 8183.
Both, C., Van Turnhout, C. A. M., Bijlsma, R. G., Siepel, H., Van Strien, A. J. and Foppen, R. P. B. (2010) Avian population consequences of climate change are most severe for long-distance migrants in seasonal habitats. Proc. Roy. Soc. B-Biol. Sci. 277: 12591266.
Brink, A. B. and Eva, H. D. (2009) Monitoring 25 years of land cover change dynamics in Africa: A sample based remote sensing approach. Applied Geogr. 29: 501512.
Brown, D. R. and Long, J. A. (2007) What is a winter floater? Causes, consequences, and implications for habitat selection. The Condor, 109: 548565.
Brown, D. R., Stouffer, P. C. and Strong, C. M. (2000) Movement and territoriality of wintering hermit thrushes in southeastern louisiana. Wilson Bull. 112: 347353.
Calenge, C. (2006) The package “adehabitat” for the r software: A tool for the analysis of space and habitat use by animals. Ecol. Model. 197: 516519.
Callo-Concha, D., Gaiser, T., Webber, H., Tischbein, B., Müller, M. and Ewert, F. (2013) Farming in the West African Sudan Savanna: Insights in the context of climate change. Afr. J. Agric. Res. 8: 46934705.
Cramp, S. (ed.) (1988) Handbook of the birds of Europe the Middle East and North Africa. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
Cresswell, W. R. L., Wilson, J. M., Vickery, J., Jones, P. and Holt, S. (2007) Changes in densities of sahelian bird species in response to recent habitat degradation. Ostrich, 78: 247253.
Engqvist, L. (2005) The mistreatment of covariate interaction terms in linear model analyses of behavioural and evolutionary ecology studies. Anim. Behav. 70: 967971.
Fair, J., Paul, E. and Jones, J., eds. (2010) Guidelines to the use of wild birds in research. Washington DC: Ornithological Council.
Fieberg, J. and Kochanny, C. O. (2005) Quantifying home-range overlap: The importance of the utilization distribution. J. Wildl. Manage. 69: 13461359.
Hahn, S., Bauer, S. and Liechti, F. (2009) The natural link between europe and africa-2.1 billion birds on migration. Oikos 118: 624626.
Hansen, M. C., Potapov, P. V., Moore, R., Hancher, M., Turubanova, S. A., Tyukavina, A., Thau, D., Stehman, S. V., Goetz, S. J., Loveland, T. R., Kommareddy, A., Egorov, A., Chini, L., Justice, C. O. and Townshend, L. R. G. (2013) High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change. Science 342: 850853.
Heldbjerg, H. and Fox, T. (2008) Long-term population declines in danish trans-saharan migrant birds: Capsule long-distance migrant birds show less favourable trends than sedentary/short-distance species. Bird Study 55: 267279.
Herfindal, I., Linnell, J. D. C., Odden, J., Nilsen, E. B. and Andersen, R. (2005) Prey density, environmental productivity and home-range size in the eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). J. Zool. 265: 6371.
Holmes, R. T. and Sherry, T. W. (2001) Thirty-year bird population trends in an unfragmented temperate deciduous forest: Importance of habitat change. Auk 118: 589609.
Holt, J. P. (2000) Changes in bird populations on the highlands plateau, north carolina (USA), 1946-1995, with emphasis on neotropical migrants. Natural Areas J. 20: 119125.
Horne, B. V. (1983) Density as a misleading indicator of habitat quality. J. Wildl. Manage. 47: 893901.
Hulme, M. F. and Cresswell, W. (2012) Density and behaviour of whinchats Saxicola rubetra on African farmland suggest that winter habitat conditions do not limit european breeding populations. Ibis 154: 680692.
Johnson, M. D. (2007) Measuring habitat quality: A review. The Condor 109: 489504.
Jones, P., Vickery, J., Holt, S. and Cresswell, W. (1996) A preliminary assessment of some factors influencing the density and distribution of palearctic passerine migrants wintering in the sahel zone of West Africa. Bird Study, 43: 7384.
Klaassen, R. H. G., Hake, M., Strandberg, R., Koks, B. J., Trierweiler, C., Exo, K., Bairlein, F. and Alerstam, T. (2014) When and where does mortality occur in migratory birds? Direct evidence from long-term satellite tracking of raptors. J. Anim. Ecol. 83: 176184.
Kristensen, M. W., Tøttrup, A. P. and Thorup, K. (2013) Migration of the Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus): A Eurasian songbird wintering in highly seasonal conditions in the West African Sahel. The Auk 130: 258264.
Mallord, J. W., Orsman, C. J., Roberts, J. T., Skeen, R., Sheehan, D. K. and Vickery, J. A. (2016) Habitat use and tree selection of a declining Afro-Palaearctic migrant at sub-Saharan staging and wintering sites. Bird Study, Early online.
Manly, B. F. J., McDonald, L. L., Thomas, D. L., McDonald, T. L. and Erickson, W. P. (2002) Resource selection by animals. Statistical design and analysis for field studies. 2nd edition. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Marra, P. P., Hobson, K. A. and Holmes, R. T. (1998) Linking winter and summer events in a migratory bird by using stable-carbon isotopes. Science 282: 18841886.
McLoughlin, P., Ferguson, S. and Messier, F. (2000) Intraspecific variation in home range overlap with habitat quality: A comparison among brown bear populations. Evolutionary Ecol. 14: 3960.
Moreau, R. E. (1972) The Palearctic-African bird migration systems. London, UK: Academic Press Inc.
Naef-Daenzer, B. (1993) A new transmitter for small animals and enhanced methods of home-range analysis. J. Wildl. Manage. 57: 680689.
Ockendon, N., Hewson, C. M., Johnston, A. and Atkinson, P. W. (2012) Declines in british-breeding populations of Afro-Palaearctic migrant birds are linked to bioclimatic wintering zone in Africa, possibly via constraints on arrival time advancement. Bird Study 59: 111125.
Ockendon, N., Johnston, A. and Baillie, S. (2014) Rainfall on wintering grounds affects population change in many species of afro-palaearctic migrants. J. Ornithol. 155: 905917.
Pearson, D. J. and Lack, P. C. (1992) Migration patterns and habitat use by passerine and near-passerine migrant birds in eastern Africa. Ibis 134: 8998.
R Development Core Team (2011) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
Robbins, C. S., Sauer, J. R., Greenberg, R. S. and Droege, S. (1989) Population declines in north american birds that migrate to the neotropics. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 86: 76587662.
Sanderson, F. J., Donald, P. F., Pain, D. J., Burfield, I. J. and van Bommel, F. P. J. (2006) Long-term population declines in Afro-Palearctic migrant birds. Biol. Conserv. 131: 93105.
Sheehan, D. K. and Sanderson, F. J. (2012) Seeing the bigger picture: How anthropogenic landscape modification in africa affects declining migratory birds and the need for trans-continental research and conservation. Ibis 154: 659662.
Sillett, T. S. and Holmes, R. T. (2002) Variation in survivorship of a migratory songbird throughout its annual cycle. J. Anim. Ecol. 71: 296308.
Singmann, H. (2014) afex: Analysis of Factorial Experiments. R package version 0.10-113. http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=afex
Sorensen, M. J. (2014) Singing in Africa: no evidence for a long supposed function of winter song in a migratory songbird. Behav. Ecol. 25: 909915.
Stevens, M., Sheehan, D., Wilson, J., Buchanan, G. and Cresswell, W. (2010) Changes in sahelian bird biodiversity and tree density over a five-year period in northern Nigeria. Bird Study 57: 156174.
Stünzner-Karbe, D. V. (1996) Territorialität, Habitatnutzung und Furagierverhalten überwinternder Trauerschnäpper (Ficedula hypoleuca) in West-Afrika. MSc thesis, University of Bayreuth, Germany.
Tufto, J., Andersen, R. and Linnell, J. (1996) Habitat use and ecological correlates of home range size in a small cervid: The roe deer. J. Anim. Ecol. 65: 715724.
Vickery, J. A., Ewing, S. R., Smith, K. W., Pain, D. J., Bairlein, F., Škorpilová, J. and Gregory, R. D. (2014) The decline of Afro-Palaearctic migrants and an assessment of potential causes. Ibis 156: 122.
Wilcove, D. (2009) No way home: The decline of the worlds great animal migrations. Washington DC: Island Press.
Wilson, J. M. and Cresswell, W. (2006) How robust are palearctic migrants to habitat loss and degradation in the sahel? Ibis 148: 789800.
Winstanley, D., Spencer, R. and Williamson, K. (1974) Where have all the whitethroats gone? Bird Study 21: 114.
Worton, B. J. (1989) Kernel methods for estimating the utilization distribution in home-range studies. Ecology 70: 164168.
Worton, B. J. (1995) Using monte carlo simulation to evaluate kernel-based home range estimators. J. Wildl. Manage. 59: 794800.
Zwarts, L., Bijlsma, R. G., van der Kamp, J., Sikkema, M. and Wymenga, E. (2015) Moreau’s paradox reversed, or why insectivorous birds reach high densities in savanna trees. Ardea 103: 123144.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bird Conservation International
  • ISSN: 0959-2709
  • EISSN: 1474-0001
  • URL: /core/journals/bird-conservation-international
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Willemoes supplementary material S1
Willemoes supplementary material

 PDF (525 KB)
525 KB
WORD
Supplementary materials

Willemoes supplementary material S2
Willemoes supplementary material

 Word (13 KB)
13 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed