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The Plight of Migrant Birds Wintering in the Caribbean: Rainfall Effects in the Annual Cycle

International Institute of Tropical Forestry, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Sabana Field Research Station, HC 02 Box 6205, Luquillo, Puerto Rico, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Grizelle González and Ariel E. Lugo
Forests 2017, 8(4), 115;
Received: 27 January 2017 / Revised: 24 March 2017 / Accepted: 1 April 2017 / Published: 8 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Forest Ecology and Management for the Anthropocene)
PDF [699 KB, uploaded 8 April 2017]


Here, we summarize results of migrant bird research in the Caribbean as part of a 75th Anniversary Symposium on research of the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF). The fate of migratory birds has been a concern stimulating research over the past 40 years in response to population declines documented in long-term studies including those of the IITF and collaborators in Puerto Rico’s Guánica dry forest. Various studies indicate that in addition to forest loss or fragmentation, some migrant declines may be due to rainfall variation, the consequences of which may carry over from one stage of a migrant’s annual cycle to another. For example, the Guánica studies indicate that rainfall extremes on either the temperate breeding or tropical wintering grounds affect migrant abundance and survival differently depending on the species. In contrast, IITF’s collaborative studies of the migrant Kirtland’s Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) in the Bahamas found that late winter droughts affect its annual survival and breeding success in Michigan. We review these IITF migrant studies and relate them to other studies, which have improved our understanding of migrant ecology of relevance to conservation. Particularly important is the advent of the full annual cycle (FAC) approach. The FAC will facilitate future identification and mitigation of limiting factors contributing to migrant population declines, which for some species, may be exacerbated by global climate change. View Full-Text
Keywords: annual cycle; carry over effects; climate change; Guánica; Nearctic-Neotropical annual cycle; carry over effects; climate change; Guánica; Nearctic-Neotropical
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Wunderle, Jr., J.M.; Arendt, W.J. The Plight of Migrant Birds Wintering in the Caribbean: Rainfall Effects in the Annual Cycle. Forests 2017, 8, 115.

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