Refined conservation strategies for Golden-winged Warblers in the West Virginia highlands with implications for the broader avian community

The Condor
By: , and 

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Abstract

Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) populations in the Appalachian Mountains region of North America are imperiled, warranting species-specific conservation. However, management for Golden-winged Warblers can affect both early-successional and forest species, many of which are also declining in the region. We conducted point counts in sites representing a range of successional stages within the Golden-winged Warbler's breeding range in West Virginia, USA, during 2008–2015. We identified plausible models of Golden-winged Warbler density using covariates at 4 spatial scales representing annual dispersal (5-km radius), extraterritorial movement (1.5-km radius), intraterritorial movement (100-m radius), and local resource utilization (11.3-m radius). Golden-winged Warbler density peaked at an intermediate elevation at the 1.5-km radius scale, but was negatively associated with 100-m radius minimum elevation. Density was positively associated with 100-m radius shrubland cover. Southerly latitudes were associated with higher densities when modeled alone, but there was no association when controlling for other covariates. We then examined the relationship between covariates from these plausible models and avian community structure using canonical correspondence analysis to assess the value of Golden-winged Warbler conservation for the broader avian community. We identified 5 species likely to benefit from management for Golden-winged Warblers and 21 species likely to be affected positively or negatively to varying degrees depending on their affinity for early-successional vegetation communities. Golden-winged Warblers were plotted higher along the 100-m shrubland cover gradient than any other bird species, suggesting that they may be the most shrubland area–sensitive songbird in our study area. However, the species also requires heavily forested landscapes. Therefore, a species-specific conservation strategy that balances shrubland (patches of 9–13 ha in size, comprising 15% of the landscape) and contiguous forest area (≥75% of the landscape) could concurrently meet the needs of Golden-winged Warblers and the 26 other species identified.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Refined conservation strategies for Golden-winged Warblers in the West Virginia highlands with implications for the broader avian community
Series title The Condor
DOI 10.1650/CONDOR-17-49.1
Volume 119
Issue 4
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Ornithological Society
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 25 p.
First page 762
Last page 786
Country United States
State West Virginia