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Remote estimation of overwintering home ranges in an elusive, migratory nocturnal bird

  • October 22, 2019
  • by Tonra, C. M., Wright, J. R., & Matthews, S. N. (2019)

Abstract
Due to a long running research bias toward the breeding season, there are major gaps in knowledge on the basic nonbreeding ecology of many species, preventing a full‐annual cycle focus in ecology and conservation. Exacerbating this problem is the fact that many species are extremely difficult to detect outside of breeding. Here, we demonstrate a partial solution to this problem by using archival GPS tags to examine the overwintering ecology of a migratory nocturnal bird, the eastern whip‐poor‐will (Antrostomus vociferous). We deployed tags on 21 individuals and were able to recover 11 (52%) one year later. Tags collected high precision (approx. 10 m) points throughout the nonbreeding period. With continuous time movement models, we used these data to estimate overwintering home ranges. All individuals exhibited at least one bounded home range during this phase of the annual cycle, three of eleven had two wintering locations, and home range area ranged from 0.50 to 10.85 ha. All overwintering home ranges contained closed‐canopy forest land cover (42%–100%), and no other land cover type represented >40% of any home range. We found some evidence, with caveats, that total edge within the landscape surrounding the home range was negatively related to home range area. The prevalence of contiguous closed‐canopy forest cover in overwintering home ranges contrasts with apparent breeding habitat preferences, which includes clear‐cuts and other, more open, habitats. This study is the first to reveal key aspects of overwintering space use in this species by using archival GPS to overcome both logistical and methodological limitations. Expanded use of such technology is critical to gathering basic ecological and
distributional data, necessary for achieving a more complete understanding of full‐annual cycles of animal populations.


PUBLICATION AVAILABLE AT: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ece3.5723