Comparative demographics of a Hawaiian forest bird community

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Abstract

Estimates of demographic parameters such as survival and reproductive success are critical for guiding management efforts focused on species of conservation concern. Unfortunately, reliable demographic parameters are difficult to obtain for any species, but especially for rare or endangered species. Here we derived estimates of adult survival and recruitment in a community of Hawaiian forest birds, including eight native species (of which three are endangered) and two introduced species at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Hawai'i. Integrated population models (IPM) were used to link mark-recapture data (1994-1999) with long-term population surveys (1987-2008). To our knowledge, this is the first time that IPM have been used to characterize demographic parameters of a whole avian community, and provides important insights into the life history strategies of the community. The demographic data were used to test two hypotheses: 1) arthropod specialists, such as the 'Akiapōlā'au Hemignathus munroi, are 'slower' species characterized by a greater relative contribution of adult survival to population growth, i.e. lower fecundity and increased adult survival; and 2) a species' susceptibility to environmental change, as reflected by its conservation status, can be predicted by its life history traits. We found that all species were characterized by a similar population growth rate around one, independently of conservation status, origin (native vs non-native), feeding guild, or life history strategy (as measured by 'slowness'), which suggested that the community had reached an equilibrium. However, such stable dynamics were achieved differently across feeding guilds, as demonstrated by a significant increase of adult survival and a significant decrease of recruitment along a gradient of increased insectivory, in support of hypothesis 1. Supporting our second hypothesis, we found that slower species were more vulnerable species at the global scale than faster ones. The possible causes and conservation implications of these patterns are discussed. Journal of Avian Biology

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Guillaumet, A., Woodworth, B. L., Camp, R. J., & Paxton, E. H. (2016). Comparative demographics of a Hawaiian forest bird community. Journal of Avian Biology, 47(2), 185–196. https://doi.org/10.1111/jav.00756

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