Four thrush species are sympatric in the central Appalachians: Veery (Catharus fuscescens), Hermit Thrush (C. guttatus), Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), and American Robin (Turdus migratorius). The four species often nest near one another, which suggests that habitat partitioning may have developed to minimize past interspecific competition. Our objectives were to determine which specific characteristics of nesting habitat were partitioned among the species and to evaluate the relationship of these characteristics to nest survival. We monitored nests and sampled habitat variables at three spatial scales: nest substrate, nest site, and territory. A multivariate analysis of variance indicated a difference (P < 0.01) in the nest sites of all species and in each pairwise species contrast. An analysis of variance and Fisher's exact tests detected differences (P < 0.05) among species in 21 of 36 variables measured. Classification tree analysis correctly classified nests by species at a rate better than would be expected at random. Habitat partitioning among the four thrush species occurred at all three scales sampled, with the most important partitioning variables being nest height, distance-to-edge, sapling density, and elevation. Mayfield logistic regression found a positive relationship (P < 0.05) between decreasing nest height and American Robin nest survival. Overall, nest survival was similar among the four thrush species examined, and most of the variables that we measured were unrelated to survival. ?? The American Ornithologists' Union, 2007.
Additional publication details
Habitat partitioning of four sympatric thrush species at three spatial scales on a managed forest in West Virginia