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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Oct;86(19):7658-62.

Population declines in North American birds that migrate to the neotropics.

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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Laurel, MD 20708.


Using data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, we determined that most neotropical migrant bird species that breed in forests of the eastern United States and Canada have recently (1978-1987) declined in abundance after a period of stable or increasing populations. Most permanent residents and temperate-zone migrants did not show a general pattern of decrease during this period. Field data from Mexico were used to classify a subset of the neotropical migrants as using forest or scrub habitats during winter. Population declines during 1978-1987 were significantly greater among the forest-wintering species, while populations of scrub-wintering species increased. The same subset of neotropical migrants also showed overall declines in forest-breeding species, but no significant differences existed between species breeding in forest and scrub habitats. Neotropical migrant species that primarily use forested habitats in either wintering or breeding areas are declining, but a statistically significant association between habitat and population declines was detected only in the tropics.

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