ABSTRACT

Despite Hispaniola's high rates of avian endemism and its importance to supporting global biodiversity, relatively little information is available on the basic biology and ecology of its resident birds, particularly the 31 species endemic to the island. Here we describe the nesting ecology and nesting success (n = 643 nests) of species of resident and endemic birds occurring in southwestern Dominican Republic, spanning 4 major habitat types over an elevational gradient from sea level to ∼1,750 m: desert thorn scrub, dry broadleaf forest, pine forest, and montane cloud forest. We quantify nesting success in terms of daily nest survival and cumulative survival probabilities for 14 resident species (3 endemic) and describe life history metrics for these species, including clutch size and length of incubation and brooding. We compare nest success among habitats and highlight the large impact of introduced mammalian predators in all habitats studied. Nesting success was generally lower than in temperate areas, but comparable to other studies of nesting success in the Neotropics, with a mean cumulative survival probability for all open-cup nesting species of 33.6%. Nest failure due to predation varied by species but was overall notably high, ranging from 73% to 100% of all failed nests. Predation was primarily attributable to nonnative mammals introduced via European colonization.

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