|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||20 Dec 2007|
Neotropical migratory birds form a significant component of the avifauna of Belize and consequently it is important to assess the value of current and proposed protected areas to migrants. This is especially true given that the populations of many migratory species have shown considerable declines in the last 30-40 years. Detailed studies of individual species have revealed that up to 85% of annual mortality may occur during migration. These data imply that the habitats used to prepare for migration and those that are used for refuelling during the migratory journey are of critical importance to the survival of migrants.
In this study, we will examine migrant use of the proposed Belizean NE Biological Corridor to determine which species use this wilderness area as an important stepping stone in their migratory journey. Daily mist netting during both migration seasons will reveal which species pass through the area, which depend on the area to refuel and the habitats they use. Mist net data will be augmented by transects to detect species not captured in nets and give extra detail on the timing of passage, habitat use and relative densities. To further examine migrant usage of the corridor, we will determine the relative abundance of migrants in a variety of habitats during the ‘wintering’ period. The data resulting from these different lines of investigation are expected to lend considerable support to the realization of the NE Biological Corridor: a wilderness area consisting of three major ecosystems, broadleaf forest, mangrove lagoon and savannah that requires further conservation investment to strengthen and expand the area under protection and guarantee the viability of its ecosystem matrix in perpetuity.
Complementing our research goals will be activities designed to raise awareness of the issues facing migratory birds in local communities and a training program for Belizean students. Training in bird monitoring and ringing techniques will make a significant contribution to the capacity for bird research in Belize.
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