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Keywords:

  • corridors;
  • forest gap;
  • functional connectivity;
  • habitat disturbance;
  • habitat selection;
  • home range;
  • land-use practices;
  • tropical understory birds

Abstract

Understanding the ranging behavior and habitat selection of understory tropical birds is important for corridor design and enhancing functional connectivity in fragmented tropical landscapes. Here we report on the ranging behavior and habitat selection of three terrestrial insectivorous bird species, the spot-throat Modulatrix stictigula, Usambara thrush Turdus roehli and orange ground thrush Zoothera gurneyi, in the East (EUM) and West (WUM) Usambara Mountains in north-east Tanzania. Based on 5945 locations and 3676 bird radio-tracking hours conducted between 2001 and 2008 at four study sites in the EUM and WUM, we determined that the 95% kernel home range and 50% kernel core range for the spot-throat, Usambara thrush, and orange ground thrush are similar yet large (aggregate mean home range=10.3±1.1 ha; aggregate mean core range 1.5±0.4 ha); that these species are adverse to crossing non-forested openings – no bird was recorded over the course of the study to cross a non-forested opening >15 m; and that the most extinction-prone species in our study system, the spot-throat and Usambara thrush, preferentially used slightly disturbed and primary forest, respectively. These results indicate that maintaining continuous forest cover and minimizing forest disturbance in corridors in the Eastern Arc Mountains is important for enhancing their habitat suitability for these species.