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Di Giacomo A.G.,Aves Argentinas Asociacion Ornitolgica Del Plata | Mahler B.,Gentica y Evolucion | Reboreda J.C.,Gentica y Evolucion
Wilson Journal of Ornithology | Year: 2010

The Screaming Cowbird (Molothrus rufoaxillaris) is one of the most specialized brood parasites with only three known hosts: Baywing (Agelaioides badius), the main host throughout most of its range, and two alternative hosts in some areas of its distribution, Chopi Blackbird (Gnorimopsar chopi) and Brown-and-yellow Marshbird (Pseudoleistes virescens). We studied Screaming Cowbird parasitism in northeast Argentina where this parasite uses Baywings and Chopi Blackbirds as hosts. We monitored 69 nests of Baywings, 251 of Chopi Blackbirds, 31 of Solitary Caciques (Cacicus solitarius), and 30 of Cattle Tyrants (Machetornis rixosa). The frequency of Screaming Cowbird parasitism on Baywing nests was 80 and was 46 for Chopi Blackbirds. We recorded one event of Screaming Cowbird parasitism on one nest of Solitary Caciques and three events of Screaming Cowbird parasitism on one nest of Cattle Tyrants. The identities of parasitic eggs in both hosts were confirmed by sequencing the mtDNA control region. We propose these events of parasitism resulted from recognition errors by Screaming Cowbird females that regularly parasitize Baywings and Chopi Blackbirds. The nest of Solitary Caciques had been frequently visited by a pair of Baywings before Screaming Cowbird parasitism occurred, and the nest of Cattle Tyrants was near an active Chopi Blackbird nest that had been previously parasitized by Screaming Cowbirds. © 2010 by the Wilson Ornithological Society.

Di Giacomo A.S.,Genetica y Evolucin | Vickery P.D.,Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center | Casaas H.,Aves Argentinas Asociacion Ornitolgica Del Plata | Spitznagel O.A.,Aves Argentinas Asociacion Ornitolgica Del Plata | And 3 more authors.
Bird Conservation International | Year: 2010

The Aguapey river basin in the Pampas grasslands of Argentina is the last refuge for a complete assemblage of globally threatened and Near Threatened birds. We evaluated the influence of landscape characteristics on the occurrence and abundance of six globally threatened and Near Threatened passerines. We used point counts to census birds and vegetation and quantified landscape characteristics 1,000 m from the count centres using remote sensing tools. Strange-tailed Tyrants Alectrurus risora were associated with higher percentages of tall-grass Andropogon lateralis in lowland areas. Saffron-cowled Blackbirds Xanthopsar flavus and Black-and-white Monjitas Heteroxolmis dominicana were associated with rolling landscape with wet lowland grasslands and marshes linked with dry upland grasslands. Marsh Seedeater Sporophila palustris and Chestnut Seedeater S. cinnamomea were associated with tall grasslands and marshes. Rufous-throated Seedeater S. ruficollis was not clearly associated with any type of habitat. The Aguapey grasslands are used mainly for livestock grazing and afforestation. Since 1995, approximately 50% of the original grassland habitat has been planted with exotic trees. If this trend continues, Saffron-cowled Blackbirds are likely to become extinct in the Aguapey river basin which currently supports the largest population of this species in Argentina. We recommend guidelines for establishing future reserves and wildlife management actions based on the landscape responses detected in this study. Future action should consider: maintaining connectivity between the Aguapey grasslands and the Ibera Nature Reserve, creating a protected area, designing a land use plan for the basin, avoiding afforestation in large blocks, removal of government incentives for large afforestation projects, and studying the viability of threatened bird populations in extensive cattle ranching areas. Copyright © 2009 BirdLife International.

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