• Migrant stopover ecology and resident resilience after hurricane Iris in a neotropical bird community

      Johnson, Andrew Bryant (2003-05)
      I conducted two avian ecology studies in southern Belize. I examined mass gains by Nearctic-Neotropic migrants in forest near the Gulf of Honduras, a potential ecological barrier to migration. Condition indices (mass/wing chord or tail length) were used to estimate net diel mass gains in migrant species. Ten migrant species apparently were fattening at the site, but some species not fattening at the site had accumulated fat loads elsewhere, and this region appears to provide important resources for transient migrants. I also studied the resilience of a marked resident bird community after Hurricane Iris severely altered the habitat. Given the severity of the disturbance, I expected that the bird community would have been severely impacted. Resident species were combined into ecological guilds, and patterns of captures and recaptures were compared before and after the hurricane. In resident species, survivors played an important role in the resilience of the community. Species abundances shifted, and the amount of fat that birds were carrying after the hurricane increased significantly. Despite the severe habitat alteration, local species extirpations were minimal, although the community was still changing one year after the storm.