Impacts of a volcanic eruption on the forest bird community of Montserrat, Lesser Antilles
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Volcanic eruptions are an important and natural source of catastrophic disturbance to ecological communities. However, opportunities to study them are relatively rare. Here we report on the effects of the eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano on the forest bird community of the Lesser Antillean island of Montserrat. The island's species-poor avifauna includes 11 restricted-range species, including the Critically Endangered endemic Montserrat Oriole Icterus oberi. Analysis of monitoring data from 1997 to 2005 indicates that counts of most species were substantially lower following major ashfalls. However, this effect was short-lived, with rapid population recovery in subsequent years. Furthermore, levels of seasonal rainfall appear to have been at least as important in determining population trends as ashfall. Overall, most species were at least as abundant at the end of the study as at the start, and no forest bird species have been extirpated from Montserrat. We discuss potential ecological drivers of ashfall impacts on populations: there is some evidence that terrestrial foragers were most severely affected.
|Publication status||Published - 2007|