Avifaunal surveys in La Visite National Park—last vestiges of montane broadleaf forest in eastern Haiti

Main Article Content

Christopher C. Rimmer
James E. Goetz
Esteban Garrido Gomez
Jorge L. Brocca
Jean Vilmond Hilaire

Abstract: We surveyed the montane forest bird community at two sites in La Visite National Park, Haiti, during 26 January to 1 February 2005. We recorded 50 species among 182 mist net captures, 79 point count detections, and 476 incidental observations. These included 12 North American migrants and 38 permanent resident species, including 14 Hispaniolan endemics. The two sites showed similar overall diversity and abundance of birds. We confirmed the continued presence of globally endangered Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata), locating at least four vocalizing birds during nocturnal surveys of cliffs along the Pic La Visite escarpment. We also confirmed Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) at both sites, capturing seven individuals, and we mist-netted the first Swainson’s Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii) recorded for La Visite. We observed extensive human impacts on habitat throughout La Visite National Park. In 2009, we measured the remaining extent of the three forested fragments surveyed in 2005 and showed 19–43% losses of broadleaf forest during the 4-yr period. We believe that broadleaf forest in the park is threatened with complete disappearance, especially in light of increased human pressures following the January 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, and we recommend immediate conservation measures to stop further deforestation.


Keywords: bird conservation, endemic birds, Haiti, Hispaniola, La Visite National Park


Resumen: Estudio de la avifauna en el Parque Nacional la Visite—últimos vestigios del bosque montano latifoliado en el este de Haiti- Se muestreó la comunidad de aves del bosque montano en dos sitios en el Parque Nacional La Visite Haití, entre el 26 de enero y el 1 de febrero del 2005. Fueron registradas 50 especies a partir de 182 capturas en redes de niebla, 79 detecciones en conteos de punto y 476 observaciones incidentales. Estas incluyeron 12 migratorias norteamericanas y 38 especies residentes permanentes, que incluyen 14 endémicos de La Española. Los dos sitios mostraron similares diversidades y abundancias de aves. Se confirmó la presencia del globalmente amenazado Diablotín (Pterodroma hasitata), localizándose al menos cuatro vocalizaciones durante los muestreos nocturnos en los farallones en las escarpadas de La Visite. También fue confirmada la presencia del Zorzal de Bicknell (Catharus bicknelli) en ambos sitios, capturándose siete individuos, así como se registró la primera captura de la Cigüíta de Swainson (Limnothlypis swainsonii) para La Visite. Se observó un extenso impacto humano en los hábitats a lo largo de todo el Parque Nacional La Visite. En el 2009, se midió la extensión remanente de los tres fragmentos muestreados en el 2005, y se observó la pérdida de entre un 19–43% del bosque latifoliado en solo un periodo de cuatro años. Se piensa que estos bosques están amenazados de una total desaparición, especialmente a partir del incremento de la presión humana que siguió el terremoto de enero del 2010 en Port-au-Prince, y se recomiendan medidas de conservación inmediatas para detener la deforestación.


Palabras clave: aves endémicas, conservación de las aves, Haití, La Española, Parque Nacional La Visite


Résumé: Etude de la faune aviaire dans le Parc National la Visite—derniers vestiges des forets de feuillue de montagne dans l’est d’Haïti- Nous avons étudié la communauté d’oiseaux des forets de montagne dans deux sites du Parc National La Visite (Haïti) entre le 26 Janvier et le 1er Février 2005. Nous avons enregistré 50 espèces dont 182 capturées dans des filets, 79 détectées lors des Points de Comptage, et 476 observées fortuitement. Ces enregistrements incluent 12 migrants Nord-Américains et 38 résidents permanents, dont 14 sont endémiques à l’Ile d’Hispaniola. Les deux sites sont globalement similaires en termes de diversité et abondance des oiseaux. Nous avons aussi confirmé la présence continue du Pétrel Diablotin (Pterodroma hasitata), une espèce d’oiseau globalement menacée d’extinction, en localisant au moins quatre de leurs vocalises au cours des contrôles nocturnes des falaises le long de l’escarpement du Pic La Visite. Nous avons également confirmé la présence de la Grive de Bicknell (Catharus bicknelli) dans les deux sites, en capturant sept individus et aussi capturée dans nos filets, la première Paruline de Swainson (Limnothlypis swainsonii) jamais enregistrée pour La Visite. Nous avons observé de vastes répercussions humaines sur les habitats des oiseaux à travers le Parc National La Visite. En 2009, nous avons mesuré la superficie restante pour les trois fragments de foret préalablement étudiés en 2005, de telles mesures ont révélé une perte entre 19 et 43% de forêts de feuillues sur une durée de 4 ans. Nous croyons que la forêt de feuillues dans le parc est menacée de disparition totale, plus particulièrement à cause de la pression démographique croissante suite au tremblement de terre du 12 Janvier 2010 à Port-au-Prince, et nous recommandons des mesures immédiates de conservation afin d’arrêter la déforestation.


Mots clés: conservation des oiseaux, oiseaux endémiques, Haïti, Hispaniola, Le Parc National la Visite

Abstract 538 | PDF Downloads 521

References

AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS’ UNION. 1998. Checklist
of North American birds. American Ornithologists’
Union, Washington, DC.

BENKMAN, C. W. 1994. Comments on the ecology
and status of the Hispaniolan Crossbill (Loxia
leucoptera megaplaga), with recommendations
for its conservation. Caribbean Journal of Science
30:250–254.

BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL. 2000. Threatened birds
of the world. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL. 2009. Species factsheets.
www.birdlife.org.

BOND, J. 1928. The distribution and habitats of the
birds of the Republic of Haiti. Proceedings of the
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
80:483–521.

COLEMAN, J. S., S. A. TEMPLE, AND S. R. CRAVEN.
1997. Cats and wildlife: a conservation dilemma.
www.wisc.edu/extension/catfly3.htm.

CROOKS, K. R., AND M. E. SOULE. 1999. Mesopredator
release and avifaunal extinctions in a
fragmented system. Nature 400:563–566.

DAVALOS, L. M., AND T. BROOKS. 2001. La Visite
National Park, Haiti: a last refuge for the country’s
montane birds. Cotinga 16:36–39.

DIAMOND, J. M. 2005. Collapse: how societies
choose to succeed or fail. Viking, New York.

ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE. 2010. Haiti’s few
trees at risk as survivors flee to rural areas.
www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2010/2010-01-26
-01.html.

GOETZ, J. E. 2009. Interim report on Black-capped
Petrel field research on Hispaniola, 2008–2009.
Unpubl. report to U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY.

GRIFFITHS, R., M. C. DOUBLE, K. ORR, AND R. J.
G. DAWSON. 1998. A DNA test to sex most birds.
Molecular Ecology 7:1071–1075.

JUDD, W. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite
and Pic Macaya National Parks. Bulletin of the
Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences 32:1–
136.

KEITH, A. R., J. W. WILEY, S. C. LATTA, AND J. A.
OTTENWALDER. 2003. The birds of Hispaniola,
Haiti and the Dominican Republic, an annotated
checklist. Checklist No. 21, British Ornithologists’
Union, Tring, UK.

LATTA, S. C., M. L. SONDREAL, AND C. R. BROWN.
2000. A hierarchical analysis of nesting and foraging
habitat for the conservation of the Hispaniolan
White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera
megaplaga). Biological Conservation 96:139–
150.

LATTA, S. C., C. C. RIMMER, AND K. P. MCFARLAND.
2003. Winter bird communities in four
habitats along an elevational gradient on Hispaniola.
Condor 105:179–197.

LATTA, S. C., C. C. RIMMER, H. RAFFAELE, J.
WILEY, A. KEITH, E. M. FERNANDEZ, AND K. P.
MCFARLAND. 2006. Birds of the Dominican Republic
and Haiti. Princeton University Press,
Princeton, NJ.

LEE, D. S. 2000. Status and conservation priorities
for Black-capped Petrels in the West Indies. Pp.
11–18 in Status and conservation of West Indian
seabirds (E. A. Schreiber and D. S. Lee, eds.).
Society of Caribbean Ornithology, Ruston, LA.

LEE, D. S., AND N. VIÑA. 1993. A re-evaluation of
the status of the endangered Black-capped Petrel,
Pterodroma hasitata, in Cuba. Ornitología Neotropical
4:99–101.

NORTON, R., A. WHITE, AND A. DOBSON. 2004.
West Indies and Bermuda. North American Birds
58:293.

PARYSKI, P., C. A. WOODS, AND F. E. SERGILE.
1989. Conservation strategies and the preservation
of biological diversity in Haiti. Pp. 855–878
in Biogeography of the West Indies: past, present,
and future (C. A. Woods, ed.). Sandhill Crane
Press, Gainesville, FL.

RALPH, C. J., G. R. GEUPEL, P. PYLE, T. E. MARTIN,
AND D. F. DESANTE. 1993. Handbook of
field methods for monitoring landbirds. Pacific
Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U. S.
Department of Agrculture, General Technical
Report PSW–GTR–144–www.

REMSEN, J. V., AND D. A. GOOD. 1996. Misuse of
data from mist-net captures to assess relative
abundance in bird populations. Auk 113:381–398.

RIMMER, C. C., AND J. ALMONTE. 2001. Additional
notes on the wintering status of Swainson’s Warbler
in the Dominican Republic. Pitirre 14:5–6.

RIMMER, C. C., K. P. MCFARLAND, W. G. ELLISON,
AND J. E. GOETZ. 2001. Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus
bicknelli). In The Birds of North America,
no. 592 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of
North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

RIMMER, C. C., J. M. TOWNSEND, A. K. TOWNSEND,
E. M. FERNÁNDEZ, AND J. ALMONTE.
2005a. Avian diversity, abundance, and conservation
status in the Macaya Biosphere Reserve of
Haiti. Ornitología Neotropical 16:219–230.

RIMMER, C.C., E. GARRIDO G., AND J. L. BROCCA.
2005b. Ornithological field investigations in La
Visite National Park, Haiti, 26 January – 1 February
2005. Unpubl. report, Vermont Institute of
Natural Science, Woodstock, VT.

SERGILE, F. 2008. Waterbirds in Haiti. Waterbird
Conservation for the Americas. Societe Audubon
Haiti, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

SERGILE, F. E., AND C. A. WOODS. 2001. Status of
conservation in Haiti: a 10-year retrospective. Pp.
547–560 in Biogeography of the West Indies:
patterns and perspectives (C. A. Woods and F. E.
Sergile, eds.). CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

STATTERSFIELD, A. J., M. J. CROSBY, A. J. LONG,
AND D. C. WEGE. 1998. Endemic bird areas of
the world: priorities for biodiversity conservation.
Birdlife Conservation Series no. 7, BirdLife International,
Cambridge, UK.

SWARTLEY, D. B., AND J. R. TOUSSAINT. 2006. Haiti
country analysis of tropical forestry and biodiversity.
U. S. Agency for International Development
and U. S. Forest Service (Management and
Engineering Technologies International, Inc.).

TOWNSEND, A. K., C. C. RIMMER, S. C. LATTA,
AND I. J. LOVETTE. 2007. Ancient differentiation
in the single-island avian radiation of endemic
Hispaniolan chat-tanagers (Aves: Calyptophilus).
Molecular Ecology 16:3634–3642.

TOWNSEND, J. M., E. G. GARRIDO, AND D. A.
MEJIA. 2008. Nests and nesting behavior of Golden
Swallow in abandoned bauxite mines in the
Dominican Republic. Wilson Bulletin 120:867–
871.

TOWNSEND, J. M, C. C. RIMMER, AND K. P.
MCFARLAND. 2009a. Elucidating the limiting
factors of a rare, vulnerable species: Bicknell’s
Thrush. Pp. 91–95 in Tundra to tropics: connecting
birds, habitats and people (T. D. Rich, C.
Arizmendi, D. Demarest, and C. Thompson,
eds.). Proceedings of the 4th International Partners
in Flight Conference, McAllen, TX.

TOWNSEND, J. M., C. C. RIMMER, J. BROCCA, K. P.
MCFARLAND, AND A. K. TOWNSEND. 2009b.
Predation of a wintering migratory songbird by
introduced rats: can nocturnal roosting behavior
serve as predator avoidance? Condor 111:565–
569.

WETMORE, A., AND B. H. SWALES. 1931. Birds of
Haiti and the Dominican Republic. U. S. National
Museum Bulletin 155.

WINGATE, D. B. 1964. Discovery of breeding
Black-capped Petrels on Hispaniola. Auk 81:147–
159.

WOODS, C. A. 1975. Banding and recapture of wintering
warblers in Haiti. Bird-Banding 46:344–
346.

WOODS, C. A. AND J. A. OTTENWALDER. 1983. The
montane avifauna of Haiti. Pp. 576–590, 607–622
in Proceedings of the Jean Delacour / International
Foundation for the Conservation of Birds symposium
on breeding birds in captivity (A. C. Risser,
Jr., and F. S. Todd, eds.). International Foundation
for the Conservation of Birds, Los Angeles,
CA.

WOODS, C. A., AND J. A. OTTENWALDER. 1986.
The birds of Parc La Visite and Macaya Biosphere
Reserve, Haiti. Unpubl. report for

USAID / Haiti under contract no. 521–0169–C–
00–3083–00, Gainesville, FL.

WOODS, C. A., AND J. A. OTTENWALDER. 1992.
The natural history of southern Haiti. Florida Museum
of Natural History, Gainesville, FL.

WOODS, C. A., F. E. SERGILE, AND J. A. OTTENWALDER.
1992. Stewardship plan for the national
parks and natural areas of Haiti. Florida Museum
of Natural History, Gainesville, FL.