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Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 148, Supplement 2, pp 261–267 | Cite as

The potential of particular starlings (Sturnidae) as indicators of habitat change

  • Walter A. SontagJrEmail author
  • Michel Louette
Review

Abstract

The starlings (Sturnidae) represent a highly successful and adaptable passerine family. Several sturnids, predominantly open country species, have been introduced into new geographic areas through human agency, and some have become pests in the new range. In this context, we investigated habitat use in a typical open habitat sturnid, the Common Mynah (Acridotheres tristis), and a forest sturnid, the (Common) Hill Mynah (Gracula religiosa), in primary and secondary habitats in the Comoro Islands, where the Common Mynah was introduced, and in Thailand, where both species are native. The landscape of the four Comoro Islands has been affected by man to a variable extent. The Common Mynah is very abundant on Mayotte, moderately so on Grand Comoro and Anjouan and least so on Mohéli. It clearly prefers non-forest habitat including degraded mosaic habitats and tree plantations. Although also found in isolated and undisturbed forests on the Comoros, it was never recorded in any forest habitats surveyed in eastern Thailand. In contrast, Hill Mynahs were found in intact primary forest with and without gaps, and in severely disturbed forest patches. Their distribution varied between the two study sites, and Hill Mynahs were recorded at higher frequencies in primary forest with gaps than in forest without gaps. Supplementary observations, including other open country starlings, suggest that this bird family shows marked plasticity in habitat use by particular species, which can serve as good indicators of rapid habitat change.

Keywords

Comoros Eastern Thailand Habitat change Invaders Sturnidae 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Jan Stevens for commenting on a first version of the manuscript. ML is especially grateful to Luc Bijnens, Marc Herremans, Frederic Neri and Jan Stevens for fieldwork, and Garin Cael (all from Tervuren) for technical support; to Hugh Doulton and Charles Marsh (Oxford) for sharing their Anjouan field data; and to Yahaya Ibrahim (Comoros) for logistical help. WS is especially grateful to Pilai Poonswad and Schwann Tunhikorn (both Bangkok) for their consistent and selfless support for his studies in Thailand. Fieldwork there was most effectively supported by Boonma (Khao Yai National Park), Songkrot Poothong (Bang Pra Non-Hunting Area) and Sawai Wanghongsa and his assistants (Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary). Special thanks also go to Erwin Nemeth for fruitful discussions, and Alexander Seidel for advice in statistical and software matters. Phil Round provided important information on literature. Finally, we thank an anonymous reviewer for valuable suggestions improving our manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OrnithologyMuseum of Natural HistoryViennaAustria
  2. 2.Royal Museum for Central AfricaTervurenBelgium

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