The Effect of Hurricane Hugo on Bird Populations in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

The Effect of Hurricane Hugo on Bird Populations in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico
Robert B. Waide
Biotropica
Vol. 23, No. 4, Part A. Special Issue: Ecosystem, Plant, and Animal Responses to Hurricanes in the Caribbean (Dec., 1991), pp. 475-480

Abstract: 
Abstract Hurricane Hugo caused severe but short-term disruption of the avian community of a subtropical wet forest site in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico. Nectarivorous and frugivorous bird species were greatly reduced in numbers immediately after the hurricane. The single granivore species studied decreased in numbers more slowly Insectivores and omnivores increased after the hurricane. All species except the granivore returned to their prehurricane abundance levels prior to the following breeding season, suggesting that population changes were a result of movement in search of food rather than mortality. Mist net captures and observations indicated that birds occupied a reduced vertical foraging range after the hurricane, and stomach contents from birds captured 6-10 months after the hurricane showed that different foods were being consumed. Fewer and different kinds of arthropods were found in stomachs after the hurricane. These findings, coupled with the frequent occurrence of hurricanes in the Caribbean, suggest that there is pressure on bird populations in this region to maintain plasticity in habitat and dietary requirements.