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Climate trends and behavior of a model Amazonian terrestrial insectivore, Black-faced Antthrush, indicate adjustment to hot and dry conditions

Citation

Jirinec, Vitek; Elizondo, Elisa; Rodrigues, Patricia; Stouffer, Philip (2022), Climate trends and behavior of a model Amazonian terrestrial insectivore, Black-faced Antthrush, indicate adjustment to hot and dry conditions, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5qfttdz7z

Abstract

Rainforest loss threatens terrestrial insectivorous birds throughout the world’s tropics. Recent evidence suggests these birds are declining in undisturbed Amazonian rainforest, possibly due to climate change. Here, we first asked whether Amazonian terrestrial insectivorous birds were exposed to increasingly extreme ambient conditions using 38 years of climate data. We found long-term trends in temperature and precipitation at our study site, especially in the dry season, which was ~1.3 °C hotter and 21% drier in 2019 than in 1981. Second, to test whether birds actively avoided hot and dry conditions, we used field sensors to identify periodic intervals of ambient extremes and prospective microclimate refugia within undisturbed rainforest from 2017–2019. Simultaneously, we examined how tagged Black-faced Antthrushes (Formicarius analis) used this space. We collected >1.3 million field measurements quantifying ambient conditions in the forest understory, including along elevation gradients. For 11 birds, we obtained GPS data to test whether birds adjusted their cover usage using variation in GPS fix success (n = 2,724) as a proxy and elevation using successful locations (n = 640) across seasonal and daily cycles. For four additional birds, we collected >180,000 light and temperature readings to assess exposure. Field measurements in the modern landscape revealed that temperature was higher in the dry season and highest on plateaus. Thus, low-lying areas were relatively buffered, providing microclimate refugia during hot afternoons in the dry season. At those times, birds apparently entered cover and shifted downslope. Because climate change intensifies the hot, dry conditions that antthrushes seemingly avoid, our results are consistent with the hypothesis that climate change decreases habitat quality for this species. If other terrestrial insectivores are similarly sensitive, climate-induced changes to otherwise intact rainforest may be related to their recent declines.

Methods

Please see the associated publication for methods on data collection and processing.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: LTREB 1257340

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: McIntire Stennis no. 94327

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Neotropical Bird Club

American Philosophical Society

American Ornithological Society

Animal Behavior Society

Wilson Ornithological Society

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: McIntire Stennis no. 94098

National Science Foundation, Award: LTREB 0545491