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The Forest Thrush Turdus lherminieri prefers mature mesic forest with dense canopy



Habitat loss, the primary driver for loss of biodiversity worldwide, is of special concern for species that have a small area of occurrence, such as those restricted to islands. The Forest Thrush Turdus lherminieri is a ‘Vulnerable’ (VU) species endemic to four islands in the Caribbean, and its population has declined dramatically over the past 15 years. Because this decline is poorly understood, we studied its habitat associations on Montserrat. We conducted three repeat point count surveys and measured forest structure and habitat at each of 88 randomly placed locations in the largest forest area remaining on the island. We related Forest Thrush abundance to habitat using binomial mixture models that account for imperfect detection. Detection probability was a function of survey time, survey date, location of the survey point, and wind. Local habitat structure had the greatest influence on Forest Thrush abundance, with birds being more abundant at mid-elevations under closed canopies. We conclude that the Forest Thrush prefers mature mesic and wet forests on Montserrat. Assuming similar habitat selection in the rest of its range, the species’s long-term future depends on good protection of these natural forests on all four islands where it occurs.


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The Forest Thrush Turdus lherminieri prefers mature mesic forest with dense canopy



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