Goats and Birds

This paper describes an interesting interaction – how goats may affect habitat quality for other animals. In this case for the endangered Kirtland’s warbler on Eleuthera. See the author’s summary below – it is an easy paper to follow. (I wonder if my goats in Texas improved habitat for any birds?)

Author’s summary – As part of an experimental study of using controlled goat grazing to manage winter habitat of the Kirtland’s warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii), an endangered Nearctic neotropical migratory bird, we evaluated diet preferences of domesticated goats within early successional subtropical dry forest in The Bahamas. We expected goats would show a low preference for two plants (Lantana involucrata, Erithalis fruticosa) important to the bird’s winter diet and that occur in abundance in goat-grazed areas throughout the region. Contrary to our expectations, the plants were among a set of species, including Acacia choriophylla, Passiflora spp., and Thrinax morrisii, with moderate to high palatability during the mid-late dry season. Thus, strict avoidance of the two warbler food plants by goats is not a direct mechanism promoting their abundance in grazed areas. Nonetheless, grazing may still prove an economically viable means of managing existing warbler habitat by delaying succession toward a mature forest community where important food resources may be lacking.

By | 2017-12-01T14:01:56-05:00 March 17th, 2016|Categories: Birds|1 Comment

About the Author:

Craig Layman
My lab’s interdisciplinary pursuits provide for a multi-faceted understanding of environmental change in the coastal realm. We are ecologists, asking questions that span population, community, ecosystem and evolutionary sub-disciplines. We often use a food web based perspective, exploring top-down (e.g., predation) and bottom-up (e.g., nutrient excretion) mechanisms by which animals affect ecosystem processes. All of our efforts are framed within a broader outreach framework, directly integrating science and education, using approaches such as this website.

One Comment

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    Dawn Nielsen March 17, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Are they friends?

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