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Tuesday, January 30 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
FOREST & GRASSLAND SONGBIRDS: Range-wide Patterns of Migratory Connectivity and Nonbreeding Distribution of Vermivora Warblers

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AUTHORS. Gunnar Kramer, University of Toledo; David Andersen, US Geological Survey, MN Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Minnesota; David Buehler, University of Tennessee; Petra Wood, US Geological Survey, WV Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, West Virginia University; Sean Peterson, University of California - Berkeley; Kyle Aldinger, WV Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, West Virginia University; Lesley Bulluck, Virginia Commonwealth University; Brandon Gray, University of Ohio; Sergio Harding, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; John Jones, Tulane University; David King, US Forest Service Northern Research Station, University of Massachusetts Amherst; John Loegering, University of Minnesota; Donald Miles, Ohio University; Curtis Smalling, Audubon North Carolina; Rachel Vallender, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Henry Streby, University of Toledo

ABSTRACT. Golden- and blue-winged Warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera and V. cyanoptera, respectively) are closely related Neotropical-Nearctic migrant songbirds exhibiting varied and complex regional population trends within and between species. Intensive landscape management focused on increasing cover types associated with both species has not resulted in observable responses in breeding population trends suggesting that nonbreeding factors may be limiting breeding populations of these species. To investigate the potential for nonbreeding factors to differentially influence breeding population trends of these species we used light-level geolocators to track the annual movements of 43 golden-winged warblers, 24 blue-winged warblers and 4 phenotypic hybrids from 21 sites across both species’ breeding distributions. We identified nonbreeding locations of individual warblers and investigated the potential for population- and/or species-specific nonbreeding patterns to explain breeding population trends. Blue-winged warblers demonstrated weak connectivity with individuals across the breeding distribution occurring throughout Central America during the nonbreeding period. Conversely, golden-winged warblers exhibited strong connectivity with eastern, declining populations occurring exclusively in northern South America during the nonbreeding period, and western populations occurring throughout Central America. Our results suggest that nonbreeding-site factors may explain differences in population trends observed in golden-winged warbler breeding populations, but not trends in blue-winged warbler populations. Blue-winged warblers showed weaker connectivity and occurred in similar areas as stationary or increasing, western-breeding golden-winged warbler populations (i.e., Central America). We discuss the conservation and management implications of species- and population-specific nonbreeding distributions and investigate potential nonbreeding-site drivers of population declines.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm CST