TitleA comparision study of migratory raptor distribution and habitat use at the Cape May peninsula stopover
NameFrank, Cristina A. (author), Burger, Joanna (chair), Lathrop, Richard (internal member), Lockwood, Julie (internal member), Niles, Larry (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectEcology and Evolution,
Birds of prey--Migration,
DescriptionStopover habitats must provide sufficient resources for migratory birds to rest and refuel before negotiating ecological barriers and continuing migration. The pressure of finding suitable habitat intensifies when migrants encounter stopovers that have been degraded by human activities. There is limited documentation of how migrants respond to altered landscapes. This comparison study evaluated potential relationships between changes in habitat use and distribution of migratory raptors and changes in the landscape at Cape May Peninsula, New Jersey by replicating point count surveys originally conducted in the late 1980s. This valuable coastal stopover provides resources for fall migrants as they prepare to cross the 18km-wide Delaware Bay. Habitat loss and degradation has occurred throughout the Cape May Peninsula with the greatest losses occurring in the lower 10km. Migratory raptors concentrated near their crossing point in the lower 10km in all survey years, however in 2002, there was a significant decline in the number of raptors observed in this region of the peninsula. Raptors were more evenly distributed throughout northern regions of the study area suggesting that migrants are extending their search for suitable stopover habitat into areas of the peninsula where availability is greater. Coupled with accelerated habitat loss within the concentration area between the survey periods, our data suggest that raptors are responding to the degraded landscape by exhibiting greater variation in habitat use, weaker relationships with specific habitat types, spending more time using habitat and are utilizing portions of the peninsula outside of the traditional concentration area. These results identify the need for conservation and protection of priority stopover areas and a diversity of habitats throughout the entire Cape May stopover, including the expansion of regulatory protection for habitats as far north as 20km from the lower 10km concentration area of the peninsula. This study also suggests that habitat at both the local and landscape levels influence habitat use and distribution at Cape May Peninsula.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 62-64).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.