Eastern Whip-poor-wills (Antrostomus vociferus) are positively associated with low elevation forest In the central Appalachians

Wilson Journal of Ornithology
By:  and 



Populations of the Eastern Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus) are thought to be declining because of a range of potential factors including habitat loss, pesticide use, and predation. However, this species is nocturnal and, as a consequence, it is poorly studied, and its population status is not well assessed by traditional diurnal bird surveys. We used nocturnal road surveys to study habitat associations and distribution of Eastern Whip-poor-wills to better understand and contextualize their population status and to provide a framework for subsequent research and management. We used occupancy models to associate presence of Eastern Whip-poor-wills with habitat characteristics. Global models with habitat associations at a radius of 1600 m (1.0-ha area) were the best supported by the data, suggesting that this was the scale at which the species responded to the habitat parameters we measured. At this scale, Eastern Whip-poor-wills most frequently occupied areas lower in elevation and characterized by forested, herbaceous, and wetland cover types. In contrast, high elevation conifer forest communities had substantially fewer Eastern Whip-poor-wills. Detection rates were positively correlated with moon visibility and negatively correlated with noise. We used the results of our surveys to generate a regional model to predict distributions of Eastern Whip-poor-wills and that can be used as a framework for future management. Our results suggest that succession of agricultural fields and other clearings into forested habitats with dense understory may be a contributing factor to ongoing declines of Eastern Whip-poor-wills.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Eastern Whip-poor-wills (Antrostomus vociferus) are positively associated with low elevation forest In the central Appalachians
Series title Wilson Journal of Ornithology
DOI 10.1676/15-156.1
Volume 128
Issue 4
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher The Wilson Ornithological Society
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 846
Last page 856
Country United States
State West Virginia
Other Geospatial Appalachians, Monongahela National Forest
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