Distribution and habitat requirements of the Bahama Warbler Setophaga flavescens on Grand Bahama in 2018

David J. Pereira, Matthew A. Gardner, Matthew Geary, Diana J. Bell, Nigel Collar

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Abstract

The Bahama Warbler Setophaga flavescens is restricted to Grand Bahama and Abaco in the Bahamas Islands, where in recent decades its pine forest habitat has been seriously affected by hurricanes. To assess its conservation status and determine its habitat requirements, we conducted point transects with playback and simultaneously took measurements at 464 locations in pine forest across Grand Bahama from April to June 2018. Warbler presence was predicted by taller Thatch Palms Thrinax radiata and some fire disturbance, and its absence by a higher number of needleless pines. A comparison of these habitat predictors between the combined regions where warblers were detected (Lucayan Estates and East End) vs. where they were not (West End and Freeport) also revealed that Bahama Warblers showed a marked preference for taller Thatch Palms (>140 cm) and habitat plots within the middle fire disturbance category. These findings suggest that the species is adapted to a climax pine forest habitat maintained under a standard fire regime. Our research was intended to provide a first baseline study of the warbler’s distribution and ecology on Grand Bahama, but the distribution may have radically changed following Hurricane Dorian’s devastation of the island in 2019, and the species may now only survive on Abaco. Nevertheless, ecological insights from Grand Bahama seem likely to help conservation management on Abaco, but both islands now need to be surveyed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere46
JournalBird Conservation International
Volume33
Early online date6 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Bahama Warbler
  • Grand Bahama
  • Habitat preferences
  • Point transects
  • Population distribution

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