Space and habitat use by breeding Golden-winged Warblers in the central Appalachian Mountains: Chapter 5

Studies in Avian Biology - 5
By: , and 



Spot-mapping, or recording locations of observed use by territorial songbirds, is often used to delineate core breeding territories. However, a recent radiotelemetry study in Minnesota found that male Golden-winged Warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera) occurring in high-density populations used resources outside their spot-mapped territories. We compared differences in space use and quantified vegetation characteristics in territories and home ranges of individual male Golden-winged Warblers that we monitored using both spot-mapping and radiotelemetry. Our study sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia had lower population density than in Minnesota. We recorded 524 telemetry locations among 12 male Golden-winged Warblers in Pennsylvania and 488 telemetry locations among seven males in West Virginia. Telemetry-delineated home ranges (100% and 50% minimum convex polygons [MCPs]) were two to four times larger than spot-mapped territories. Spot-mapped territories had minimal overlap among individual males, but home ranges had extensive space-use overlap in both the number and amount of MCP overlap among several males. Forty percent of telemetry locations were outside of spot-mapped territories. Sapling abundance was greater in home ranges (mean 22.5 saplings ± 2.1 SE) than spot-mapped territories in Pennsylvania (11.8 ± 1.9). In managed pastures of West Virginia, tree abundance was greater in home ranges (7.3 trees ± 0.8) than spot-mapped territories (1.9 ± 0.6). More telemetry locations than spot-mapped locations occurred in forest in both states, and telemetry locations were closer to intact forested edges of shrublands than spot-mapped locations in West Virginia. On several occasions, we observed radiomarked individuals >200 m (maximum of 1.5 km) from their MCP spot-mapped territory boundaries. Why Golden-winged Warblers leave their spot-mapped territories is unknown, but our observations suggest foraging, forays for extra-pair mating, and reconnaissance for postbreeding movements as possible motives. Our results from areas with low Golden-winged Warbler territory densities are similar to patterns reported for a high-density population in Minnesota. Ultimately, spot-mapping alone does not accurately reflect space use of Golden-winged Warblers during the breeding season, nor does it characterize all cover types used even in areas with relatively low territory densities. Current conservation plans for Golden-winged Warblers that are based on habitat characteristics measured within spot-mapped territories or at the landscape scale may not adequately incorporate space use at intermediate spatial scales of clusters of territories or home ranges.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Space and habitat use by breeding Golden-winged Warblers in the central Appalachian Mountains: Chapter 5
Series title Studies in Avian Biology
Chapter 5
ISBN 978-1-4822-4068-9
Volume 49
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher CRC Press
Publisher location Boca Raton, FL
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 14 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Golden-winged Warbler ecology, conservation, and habitat management (Studies in Avian Biology, volume 49)
First page 81
Last page 94