Main content area

Estimating golden‐cheeked warbler immigration: implications for the spatial scale of conservation

Duarte, A., Weckerly, F. W., Schaub, M., Hatfield, J. S.
Animal conservation 2016 v.19 no.1 pp. 65-74
Setophaga, adults, biologists, fledglings, immigration, juveniles, landscapes, models, population growth, reproduction, viability, Texas
Understanding the factors that drive population dynamics is fundamental to species conservation and management. Since the golden‐cheeked warbler Setophaga chrysoparia was first listed as endangered, much effort has taken place to monitor warbler abundance, occupancy, reproduction and survival. Yet, despite being directly related to local population dynamics, movement rates have not been estimated for the species. We used an integrated population model to investigate the relationship between immigration rate, fledging rate, survival probabilities and population growth rate for warblers in central Texas, USA. Furthermore, using a deterministic projection model, we examined the response required by vital rates to maintain a viable population across varying levels of immigration. Warbler abundance fluctuated with an overall positive trend across years. In the absence of immigration, the abundance would have decreased. However, the population could remain viable without immigration if both adult and juvenile survival increased by almost half or if juvenile survival more than doubled. We also investigated the response required by fledging rates across a range of immigration in order to maintain a viable population. Overall, we found that immigration was required to maintain warbler target populations, indicating that warbler conservation and management programs need to be implemented at larger spatial scales than current efforts to be effective. This study also demonstrates that by using limited data within integrated population models, biologists are able to monitor multiple key demographic parameters simultaneously to gauge the efficacy of strategies designed to maximize warbler viability in a changing landscape.