Aim The aim of this paper is to investigate the causes of the current restricted distribution of a narrow-range endemic bird species, the Canary Islands stonechat, Saxicola dacotiae.
Location Eastern islands of the Canary Islands archipelago.
Methods We compared climatic patterns (temperature and rainfall), habitat and microhabitat structure, food availability during a full annual cycle, and the abundance of native avian competitors and predators inside and outside the species’ range. Three study areas, located in similar habitats on nearby islands, were studied: northern Fuerteventura, close to the northern border of the species’ range; southern Lanzarote, 22 km from the nearest site occupied by stonechats; and the Lobos islet, 10 km from the nearest occupied site and 2 km from the coast of Fuerteventura.
Results The cover of suitable habitats (slopes with high cover of large shrubs, stony fields and ravines) and microhabitats (shrubs and boulders) and the abundance of arthropods during the breeding period of Canary Islands stonechats were lower outside than inside the species’ range. Temperature, rainfall and the abundance of competitors and predators inside and outside the species’ range did not differ significantly.
Main conclusions Ecological requirements explaining the distribution of the Canary Islands stonechat within its range seem to be the main factor hindering its settlement on nearby islands. Geological and palaeoclimatic processes, as well as past and current human impact, could also have constrained the distribution of this narrow-range endemic bird species.