Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Department ofBotany

No. 378
June 2016

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In This Issue

Smithsonian Scientists Solve Puzzle of Dramatic Wood Thrush Decline

-Adapted from Smithsonian Insider

For the past 50 years, the number of wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) that breed in the United States has decreased more than 60 percent. However, because wood thrush migrate thousands of miles each year between their breeding grounds in eastern North America and wintering grounds in tropical forests from southern Mexico to Colombia, scientists have had trouble pinpointing which part of the iconic species' annual migratory cycle is causing that decline. Scientists from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) have found that the steepest regional declines have likely been the result of loss of habitat on breeding grounds in North America.

Wood thrush (Flickr photo by Bob Devlin)

Wood thrush (Flickr photo by Bob Devlin)

"Researchers have long suspected that forest loss in Central America has been the primary driver of wood thrush declines because the rate of forest loss in much of those countries is far higher than the rate of forest loss in North America, where the birds breed," said Clark Rushing, an SCBI postdoc and primary author of the study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. "While habitat loss in Central America does play a role in the observed declines across the species' breeding range, we were surprised to find that loss of habitat on breeding grounds in North America seems to be contributing even more to the declines in several wood thrush populations.

"The study also found that when individual wood thrush overwinter in southern Mexico and experience low-quality habitat as the result of dry winter conditions, they may be less successful at reproducing when they come back to breed the following year. Scientists call this cause-and-effect a "seasonal interaction," and this paper provides strong evidence of seasonal interactions driving declines at the population level.

Although the diverse patterns revealed by this study paint a complex picture of population declines for wood thrush, ultimately the research will help conservationists determine whether to focus resources on breeding or wintering habitat for specific populations. Using these results, SMBC is working as part of the Wood Thrush Conservation Alliance to develop a conservation plan to guide on-the-ground management for wood thrush.

"The wood thrush is an umbrella species for other migratory birds and non-migratory species that depend on eastern deciduous forest," Rushing said. "There's a whole suite of species that have similar habitat requirements, so protecting wood thrush in these places will be beneficial for these other species too."

SMBC has been studying wood thrush for more than five years, but could only begin to piece together this piece of the puzzle recently thanks to satellite data, GPS geolocators and advances in remote sensing technology.

"Advanced tracking technology allowed us to link breeding and wintering wood thrush populations," said Pete Marra, head of SMBC and co-author on the paper. "This was essential for us to then be able to take the next step to look at how climate and land-use change in these linked areas affected populations."

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DeVoe, J.D., Garrott, R.A., Rotella, J.J., Challender, S.R., White, P.J., O'Reilly, M., and Butler, C.J. 2015. Summer range occupancy modeling of non-native mountain goats in the greater Yellowstone area. Ecosphere 6(11):217.

Díaz-Paniagua, C., and Aragonés, D. 2015. Permanent and temporary ponds in Donana National Park (SW Spain) are threatened by desiccation. Limnetica 34(2):407-423.

Dibble, K.L., Yackulic, C.B., Kennedy, T.A., and Budy, P. 2015. Flow management and fish density regulate salmonid recruitment and adult size in tailwaters across western North America. Ecol. Appl. 25(8):2168-2179.

Didenko, A.V., and Kruzhylina, S.V. 2015. Trophic interaction between topmouth gudgeon (Pseudorasbora parva) and the co-occurring species during summer in the Dniprodzerzhynsk reservoir. Knowl. Manag. Aquat. Ecosyst. 416:13.

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Do, V.T., Le, V.T., and Phan, D.D. 2015. Binhthuanomon vinhtan, a new genus and new species of semi-terrestrial freshwater crab (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Potamidae) from south central Vietnam. Zootaxa 4052(1):117-126.

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Dönmez, A.A., Aydin, Z.U., and Işik, S. 2015. Polygala turcica (Polygalaceae), a new species from E Turkey, and a new identification key to Turkish Polygala. Willdenowia 45(3):429-434.

Douglas, S.M., and Wilson, P.G. 2015. Callistemon purpurascens (Myrtaceae): a new and threatened species from the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia. Telopea 18:265-272.

Dozières, A., Pisanu, B., Kamenova, S., Bastelica, F., Gerriet, O., and Chapuis, J.L. 2015. Range expansion of Pallas's squirrel (Callosciurus erythraeus) introduced in southern France: habitat suitability and space use. Mamm. Biol. 80(6):518-526.

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Schmitz, P., Caspers, S., Warren, P., and Witte, K. 2015. First steps into the wild - exploration behavior of European bison after the first reintroduction in western Europe. PLoS ONE 10(11):e0143046.

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Sweikert, L., and Phillips, M. 2015. The effect of supplemental feeding on the known survival of reintroduced Aplomado Falcons: implications for recovery. J. Raptor Res. 49(4):389-399.

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Thaler, A.D., Freitag, A., Bergman, E., Fretz, D., and Saleu, W. 2015. Robots as vectors for marine invasions: best practices for minimizing transmission of invasive species via observation-class ROVs. Trop. Conserv. Sci. 8(3):711-717.

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Torres, R., Abba, A.M., and Superina, M. 2015. Climate fluctuations as a cause of rarity in fairy armadillos. Mamm. Biol. 80(6):452-458.

Torres, R.T., Miranda, J., Carvalho, J., and Fonseca, C. 2015. Expansion and current status of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) at the edge of its distribution in Portugal. Ann. Zool. Fenn. 52(5-6):339-352.

Toth, L.A. 2015. Invasibility drives restoration of a floodplain plant community. River Res. Appl. 31(10):1319-1327.

Tronstad, L.M., Hall, R.O., and Koel, T.M. 2015. Introduced lake trout alter nitrogen cycling beyond Yellowstone Lake. Ecosphere 6(11):224.

Trotta, C., Menegoni, P., Frattarelli, F.M.M., and Iannetta, M. 2015. Assessing desertification vulnerability on a local scale: the Castelporziano study case (central Italy). Rend. Lincei-Sci. Fis. 26:S421-S450.

Trovó, M., Silva, A.D., and Coan, A.I. 2015. Paepalanthus echinoides (Eriocaulaceae), a new species from central Brazil with notes on leaf and scape anatomy. Phytotaxa 231(1):81-88.

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Vargas, L.E.P., Laurance, W.F., Clements, G.R., and Edwards, W. 2015. The impacts of oil palm agriculture on Colombia's biodiversity: what we know and still need to know. Trop. Conserv. Sci. 8(3):828-845.

Vasconcellos-Neto, J., Ramos, R.R., and Pinto, L.P. 2015. The impact of anthropogenic food supply on fruit consumption by dusky-legged guan (Penelope obscura Temminck, 1815): potential effects on seed dispersal in an Atlantic forest area. Braz. J. Biol. 75(4):1008-1017.

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Wei, C.T.K., Moore, J., bin Saaban, S., Campos-Arceiz, A., and Macdonald, D.W. 2015. The discovery of two spotted leopards (Panthera pardus) in Peninsular Malaysia. Trop. Conserv. Sci. 8(3):732-737.

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Whelan, C.J., Şekercioğlu, Ç.H., and Wenny, D.G. 2015. Why birds matter: from economic ornithology to ecosystem services. J. Ornithol. 156:S227-S238.

Whitaker, D.M., Taylor, P.D., and Warkentin, I.G. 2015. Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus minimus) distribution and habitat use in a montane forest landscape of western Newfoundland, Canada. Avian Conserv. Ecol. 10(2):4.

Wilder, A.P., Kunz, T.H., and Sorenson, M.D. 2015. Population genetic structure of a common host predicts the spread of white-nose syndrome, an emerging infectious disease in bats. Mol. Ecol. 24(22):5495-5506.

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Williams, R., Erbe, C., Ashe, E., and Clark, C.W. 2015. Quiet(er) marine protected areas. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 100(1):154-161.

Wilson, H.B., Rhodes, J.R., and Possingham, H.P. 2015. Two additional principles for determining which species to monitor. Ecology 96(11):3016-3022.

Wilson, K.L., Kay, L.M., Schmidt, A.L., and Lotze, H.K. 2015. Effects of increasing water temperatures on survival and growth of ecologically and economically important seaweeds in Atlantic Canada: implications for climate change. Mar. Biol. 162(12):2431-2444.

Wilson, T.C., and Conn, B.J. 2015. Two new species of Prostanthera (Lamiaceae) from south eastern Queensland. Telopea 18:255-263.

Wilson, T.C., Elkan, L., Henwood, M.J., Murray, L., Renner, M.A.M., and Wardrop, C. 2015. Prostanthera conniana (Lamiaceae, Westringieae), a new species from the Southern Tablelands, New South Wales, Australia. Telopea 18:519-526.

Winandy, L., and Denoel, M. 2015. The aggressive personality of an introduced fish affects foraging behavior in a polymorphic newt. Behav. Ecol. 26(6):1528-1536.

Wirga, M., and Majtyka, T. 2015. Do climatic requirements explain the northern range of European reptiles? Common wall lizard Podarcis muralis (Laur.) (Squamata, Lacertidae) as an example. North-West. J. Zool. 11(2):296-303.

Woodall, C.W., Walters, B.F., Coulston, J.W., D'Amato, A.W., Domke, G.M., Russell, M.B., and Sowers, P.A. 2015. Monitoring network confirms land use change is a substantial component of the forest carbon sink in the eastern United States. Sci. Rep. 5:17028.

Wörz, A., and Thiv, M. 2015. The temporal dynamics of a regional flora—The effects of global and local impacts. Flora 217:99-108.

Yokochi, K., and Bencini, R. 2015. A remarkably quick habituation and high use of a rope bridge by an endangered marsupial, the western ringtail possum. Nat. Conserv. 11:79-94.

Yokochi, K., Chambers, B.K., and Bencini, R. 2015. An artificial waterway and road restrict movements and alter home ranges of endangered arboreal marsupial. J. Mammal. 96(6):1284-1294.

Yue, S., Brodie, J.F., Zipkin, E.F., and Bernard, H. 2015. Oil palm plantations fail to support mammal diversity. Ecol. Appl. 25(8):2285-2292.

Zahawi, R.A., Duran, G., and Kormann, U. 2015. Sixty-seven years of land-use change in southern Costa Rica. PLoS ONE 10(11):e0143554.

Zaiko, A., Martinez, J.L., Ardura, A., Clusa, L., Borrell, Y.J., Samuiloviene, A., Roca, A., and Garcia-Vazquez, E. 2015. Detecting nuisance species using NGST: Methodology shortcomings and possible application in ballast water monitoring. Mar. Environ. Res. 112:64-72.

Zaiko, A., Samuiloviene, A., Ardura, A., and Garcia-Vazquez, E. 2015. Metabarcoding approach for nonindigenous species surveillance in marine coastal waters. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 100(1):53-59.

Zhang, H., Ji, W.L., Li, M., and Zhou, L.Y. 2015. Genetic variation and genetic structure of the endangered species Sinowilsonia henryi Hemsi. (Hamamelidaceae) revealed by amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers. Genet. Mol. Res. 14(4):12340-12351.

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